Call for papers: NOS-HS Workshop “Cinema as space of encounters before, during and after WWII”

29-30 Sep. 2022, Kristiansand, Norway

For many people in the 20th century, going to the movies was not just a leisure activity, but a necessity. As embodiment of democratic mass culture, movie theatres offered information and entertainment to everybody, regardless of age, gender, class, ethnic or religious background, even though the cinema-going practices were socially distinct and fragmented. People went to the movies for multiple reasons: to be entertained, to learn what was going on in the world and in the community, to find consolation, reassurance, or encouragement, to connect socially or find privacy in the dark, to be noticed or to disappear in the crowd.

The workshop “Cinema as space of encounters before, during and after WWII” is the first in the workshop series “Cinema, War and Citizenship at the Northern Periphery: Cinemas and their audiences in the Nordic countries, 1935–1950”. It asks how the Second World War altered the cinema-going experiences and the social functions of the movie theatre. The Nordic countries were affected very differently by the war. While Denmark and Norway were occupied by Nazi Germany, Iceland was first occupied by British and then by US forces. Finland fought alongside Nazi Germany and then against it, while Sweden remained officially neutral, but experienced a large influx of refugees from neighbouring countries. The movie theatre became a battleground between different factions of society. At the same time, the movie theatres became a space of cultural encounters with the enemy or the ally, both on screen and in the auditorium.

How did the war and occupation alter the cinema-going experiences and habits? How did it change the cinema landscape and social functions of cinema? Did the audience practices and cinemas revert to pre-war conditions, or did the end of the war mark a rupture with the past and a transition to something new? What role did cinema play in the construction of the Nordic post-war societies which had experienced the war very differently? These are some of the questions we seek to address in the first workshop.

Workshop theme

In the workshop we want to discuss how different social groups and individuals experienced and used the cinema especially in the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) before, during and after WWII (1935-50). The focus is on the audiences and the cinema as space. Neglected aspects, such as rural cinema audiences, or the operation of mobile cinemas, are of particular interest.

Potential topics for presentations (but not limited to):

  • Cinema as social space of cultural encounters and conflicts
  • Local cinema-going habits before, during and after the war – breaks and continuities
  • Experiences and memories of cinema-going
  • Social composition of audiences
  • The cinema as physical site and its links to other venues
  • Developments of the cinema landscape
  • The operation and use of mobile cinemas
  • Methodology and the use of sources – problems and possibilities

The workshop is funded by the Nordic Research Councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS) exploratory workshop grant. Its goal is to establish a transdisciplinary network of scholars and non-academic experts (e.g., archivists, librarians, museum educators, etc.) to foster and strengthen research on cinema history in the North. We encourage specifically early-career scholars and postgraduate students to apply.  Our aim is to publish a selection of papers in a themed issue of Journal of Scandinavian Cinema, Historical Journal of Radio, Film and Television or Kosmorama.

Confirmed keynotes:

Prof. Daniela Treveri Gennari (Oxford Brookes University)

Dr. Mona Pedersen (Anno Museum Kongsvinger, Norway)

Dr. Jessica Whitehead (University of Toronto)


Please submit an abstract of up to 300 words, a short CV and list of publications to by 20 May 2022.

The number of participants will be limited to approx. 20 persons to allow for fruitful discussion and exchange. Accommodation in Kristiansand and meals will be provided, travel costs (economy flights and/or public transport) will be reimbursed.

For any queries regarding a potential topic or the workshop, please contact Prof. Maria Fritsche (

Deadline for abstract: 22 May 2022.

Letters of acceptance: 17 June 2022

Workshop date: 29–30 September 2022

Venue: ARKIVET Peace and Human Rights Center, Vesterveien 4, 4616 Kristiansand, Norway