Previous Annette Kuhn Essay Prize Winners


Virtual Healing: Militarizing the Psyche in Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

Television and New Media, 2017

Sasha Crawford-Holland, University of Southern California

The 2018 panel was:

  • Professor Dimitris Eleftheriotis, Screen Editor
  • Professor Karen Lury, Screen Editor
  • Professor Erica Carter, Screen Advisory Board
  • Dr Helen Piper, Screen Advisory Board

Sasha's winning essay focused on the use of virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. On the one hand, this might appear to be outside of what is regarded as more familiar ‘territory’ to screen and media studies scholars; on the other hand, its focus on virtual reality, trauma and psychoanalysis means that it could not be more timely and more resonant for our various disciplinary interests. One judge stated:

‘This is an extraordinary article. It told me a thousand things I felt I should already have known about gaming technology and war, and it did so in ways that were both persuasive and horrifying.” She continued: “The essay was important … as a window on a world that isn’t regularly focused on in screen studies, but that needs critical attention of the kind it receives here (and with considerable flair and energy).’

Another suggested that the essay presented:

‘A fascinating, rigorous, well-structured and entirely cogent argument which uses secondary insight from a wide range of material … [and] which I found entirely convincing. Challenging the inherent logic of the psychotherapist's assumption that anything of proven benefit must be positive, the author demonstrates the critical and therapeutic implications of fighting fire with fire.’


The Asexual-Single and the Collective: Remaking Queer Bonds in (A)sexual, Bill Cunningham New York, and Year of the Dog

Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies 31, no. 1 91, 2016: 27-63)

Marc Francis, PhD candidate at the University of California, Santa Cruz

The 2017 panel was:

  • Professor Tim Bergfelder, Screen Editor
  • Professor Alison Butler, Screen Editor
  • Professor Claudia Gorbman, Screen Advisory Board
  • Professor Belén Vidal, Screen Advisory Board

They said,

This essay explores genuinely new territory. In the process, it interrogates even the most progressive existing paradigms of discourse on sexuality. The three films it treats are aptly chosen and the theoretical and critical landscape it traverses is fascinating and new. In eloquent and accessible prose, Francis makes an important and inspiring case for the potential of representations of asexuality and singlehood to disturb the larger legitimating sexual and romantic order of things, giving rise (perhaps paradoxically) to create new possibilities for collectivity. The essay resonates with one of Screen’s strongest traditions, challenging normative representations of sex and gender and theorizing progressive alternatives.

The judges also offered their highest commendation to runner-up Kirsty Sinclair Dootson, PhD candidate at the University of Yale, for The Hollywood Powder Puff War: Technicolor Cosmetics in the 1930s (Film History 28, No. 1, 2016, pp. 107-131), saying,

This was a great example of detailed materialist historical research, excavating the industrial history of an apparently minor aspect of film production in a way that opens out into wider social and cultural histories, going beyond the technological and aesthetic questions signalled in the title, to engage with labour relations in the film industry and racialised constructions of beauty in Hollywood.


To Infinity and Back Again: Hand-drawn Aesthetic and Affection for the Past in Pixar's Pioneering Animation'

Alphaville Journal of Film and Screen Media, issue 8

Helen Haswell, Queen's University Belfast

The 2016 panel was:

  • Professor Tim Bergfelder, Screen Editor
  • Professor Sarah Street, Screen Editor
  • Professor Laura Rascaroli, Screen Advisory Board
  • Professor Ravi Vasuvedan, Screen Advisory Board

The panel said:

This article takes a fresh look at Pixar’s output, identifying a nostalgic sensibility in its conscious employment of hand-drawn aesthetics within digital animation. The award panel was very impressed with how the article confidently balances aesthetic evaluation and analysis of corporate strategies, showing how these mutually reinforce each other. The number of pertinent examples and attention to technical contexts is impressive. The article is also written clearly and with a confident grasp of the interrelated issues in evaluating the persistence of stylistic modes that might be regarded as regressive within new technological development. In all, the article achieves an excellent balance of breadth, originality, coherence of argument, quality of analysis, contribution to knowledge and potential to generate scholarship.

Luci Marzola was highly commended for ' Better Pictures Through Chemistry: DuPont and the Fight for the Hollywood Film Stock Market' (The Velvet Light Trap, 76) of which the panel remarked:

This is a very sophisticated, thoroughly researched example of materialist film history at its best: original and illuminating, and filling a real gap in our understanding of film history. The award panel was very impressed by the terms of this article’s reach, scholarly apparatus and sophistication of argument. In all, the article is an accomplished archival account of the move of armaments industry into the raw stock market and contributes an excellent addition to film history.


The 2015 panel was:

  • Professor Alastair Phillips, Screen Editor
  • Professor Jackie Stacey, Screen Editor
  • Professor Christine Geraghty, Screen Advisory Board
  • Professor Catherine Grant, Screen Advisory Board

The prize was awarded jointly to Maggie Hennefeld and Peter Snowdon as follows.

Slapstick comediennes

Camera Obscura 86, vol. 29, no. 2 (2014), pp. 85–116

Maggie Hennefeld, University of Minnesota

This is an engagingly written piece of original and scrupulously researched scholarship, which argues that early silent film comediennes’ bodily performances played an instrumental role in the negotiation of significant industrial transitions in cinematic form. The article explores how these comediennes simultaneously intersected with the shifting and contradictory meanings of femininity at the time of production and reception. The author demonstrates a profound level of engagement with the field and argues her case through a nuanced combination of detailed and revealing close film analysis and carefully presented social contextualisation. The essay possesses a mature and fully realised critical voice that has the capacity to reach well beyond the immediate confines of the discipline and speak to wider significant concerns regarding femininity and cultural history.

The revolution will be uploaded: vernacular video and the Arab Spring

Culture Unbound, vol. 6 (2014), pp. 401–29

Peter Snowdon, University of Hasselt

The author succeeds admirably in the very difficult task of writing genuinely scholarly work about very recent media texts. Powerfully written and carefully structured, this is an exciting and original attempt to bridge theory/practice, aesthetic/politics divisions and to intervene in broader debates about vernacular online video produced by the Arab revolutions. Prompted by Judith Butler’s work on the performativity of ‘the people’, the article makes a strong and important argument that these videos are examples of what Jacques Rancière calls the ‘redistribution of the sensible’. The article stands out for the clarity with which it develops its argument for a re-definition of Ivan Illych’s writing on ‘vernacular video’ and for the careful and creative ways in which it makes its close readings of one particular video from the Libyan uprising.

The judges also offered their highest commendation to Annie Fee for ‘“Gaumont offers La Russie Rouge and all Paris takes sides”: working-class activism in Paris cinemas, 1921–1922’, Early Popular Visual Culture, vol.12, no. 2 (2014), pp. 238–59. They remarked,

This is a thoroughly absorbing and sustained piece of original historical scholarship, which draws on an impressively wide range of archival material. The article weaves together a detailed commentary on the specificity of cinema space and audience engagement, giving a real sense of what it might have been like to be in the audience for the screenings of La Russie Rouge. At the same time, the essay develops a thoughtful and persuasive argument about what this case tells us about French cinema culture more generally during this period. As such, it thus has much to say about wider relevant debates within the field concerning film exhibition, social class and the emergence of cinephilia as a major critical discourse.

Previous Screen Awards

In 1994 Screen created an occasional Award of £1,000 to go to the writer(s) of the best article or research paper(s) submitted to the journal during a particular year. The aim of the Award was to promote research and scholarship in screen studies and to encourage new and younger scholars. Entries were judged anonymously.

The 2006/07 Award winner was Chris Cagle (then Temple University), for 'Two modes of prestige film', Screen, vol. 48, no. 3.

The 2004/05 award was made to two authors: Helen Piper (then University of Bristol), for 'Reality TV, Wife Swap and the Drama of Banality', Screen, vol. 45, no. 4; and Malin Wahlberg (Stockholm University), for 'Wonders of Cinematic Abstraction: JC Mol and the Aesthetic Experience of Science Film', Screen, vol. 47, no. 3.

The winner of the Award for manuscripts submitted in 2002, was Jodi Brooks (then University of New South Wales) for 'Ghosting the machine: the sounds of tap and the sounds of film', Screen, vol. 44, no. 4.

The 1998-9 winner was Julianne Pidduck (then Warwick University), for 'Of windows and country walks: frames of space and movement in 1990s Austen adapations', Screen, vol. 39, no. 4.

The 1996-7 winner was Lalitha Gopalan (then Georgetown University, Washington DC), for  'Avenging women in Indian cinema', Screen, vol. 38, no. 1.

In 1994-5 the judges selected joint winners: Ravi Vasudevan (Centre for Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi) for  'Addressing the spectator of a 'third world' national cinema: the Bombay "social" film of the 1940s and 1950s', Screen, vol. 36, no. 4; and Shelley Stamp Lindsey (Theater Arts, University of California, Santa Cruz) for: 'Is any girl safe?: female spectators at the white slave films', Screen, vol. 37, no. 1.