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Hannah Graves

About Me

I am currently a part-time final year PhD candidate supervised by Professor J.E. Smyth. My thesis is titled 'Keepers of our Consciences: Producing The Liberal Hero of Hollywood's Vital Center, 1947-1967'.

I work within the Corporate Archive of the British Library, which holds and continues to collect the institutional records for the British Museum Library and British Library. I have also worked as a Teaching Associate in the School of History at Queen Mary University, London (2018-2020) and in the School of History at Warwick (2013-2016).


2015 Postgraduate Award: Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, University of Warwick; Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

2011 Postgraduate Diploma, London School of Journalism

2010 M.A., American Studies, Kings College, London (Distinction)

2009 B.A., English Literature with Film Studies, Kings College, London (First Class Hons.)

My Research

My research explores the production and reception of Hollywood's socially conscious filmmaking. My project looks at the rise of crusading liberal protagonists as underexplored projections of idealised white, middle-class masculinity in the post-war era. It charts the rise and fall in popularity of this figure through the careers of the filmmakers who felt compelled to bring him to screens.

My project explores the internal and external pressures exerted on filmmakers as they negotiated the balance between profit, entertainment values, and their varying political commitments in an industry where the old adage “if you’ve got a message, send it Western Union” freely circulated. I am especially interested in the careers of independent producer Stanley Kramer, Twentieth Century Fox’s production chief Darryl F. Zanuck and Dore Schary, who worked for David O. Selznick, RKO and MGM. In different ways and at different times, each of these producers publicly aligned themselves with their screen heroes, claiming their bravery in producing socially engaged cinema was an act of industrial uplift. In trade papers, newspapers and monthly periodicals, they competitively framed themselves as Hollywood’s mature voices. Further, I am interested the ways actors associated with liberal hero roles (including Gregory Peck, Henry Fonda, Spencer Tracy and Kirk Douglas) sought greater authorship over their liberal images - and this type of filmmaking - through independent productions. My work considers the personal, political and industrial benefits of this self-fashioning across the Cold War, charting its shifts and decline.

Across several research trips I have made use of the archival holdings at the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; the Warner Bros. Archive at USC; Special Collections at USC; Special Collections at UCLA; the Historical Society of Wisconsin; the Lilly Library of the University of Indiana; The Howard Gotlieb Library at Boston University; The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University and the National Archives, Washington D.C. I have also conducted research at Boston Public Library, the New York Public Library, Library of Congress, the BFI, The National Archives and the British Library. I was a Dissertation Fellow of the Harry Ransom Centre at the University of Texas in 2015.


Book Chapters

'Beyond the Bounds of Criticism: Preserving Spencer Tracy as a Liberal Hero 'in Lasting Screen Stars: Images that Fade and Personas that Endure eds. Lucy Bolton and Julie Lobalzo Wright (Palgrave MacMillan, 2016), 173-187.


'“Coward, take my coward’s hand”: Mudbound (2017) and the legacy of Hollywood’s anti-racist returning veteran films', U.S. Studies Online, Janury 2018.

Pinky (1949) and the Origins of Interracial Oscar-Bait’, Bitch Flicks, February 2016.

Review of Trumbo (Jay Roach, 2015), U.S. Studies Online, January 2016.


Book reviews have appeared in Film Quarterly, Film & History, The Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, SCOPE: An Online Journal of Film and Television Studies, Senses of Cinema, The Journal of Popular Culture, The Journal of American Studies and The Journal of American Culture.

Invited Talks

‘Corruption on Celluloid: A Discussion and Screening of Seven Days in May (1964).’ At the Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London, December 2015.

'Dore Schary: Hollywood's Forgotten Mogul.' At the History and Cultures Workshop Series, University of Birmingham, March 2015.

‘Adult Entertainment: Conscience, Creed and the Evolution of the Crusading Hero in Gentleman's Agreement (1947).’ At the Film and History Seminar Series, Institute of Historical Research, March 2014.

Select Conference Presentations

'Dore Schary, The Hoaxters (1952) and Hollywood’s Liberal Anti-Communism.’ The British Association of American Studies conference, Canterbury Christ-Church University, April 2017.

‘Magazine Illustration Filmmaking: Darryl F. Zanuck, Henry Luce, and the Culture of Democracy.’ The Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference, The Fairmont Millennium Park, Chicago, March 2017.

‘Jane White’s Pinky (1949).’ Doing Women’s Film and TV History Conference, The Phoenix Cinema, Leicester, May 2016.

'All That's Fit to Print: Tracing Brand-Building in the Hollywood Biography Through Don't Say Yes Until I Finish Talking.' Joint IAAS and BAAS Conference, Queen's University Belfast, April 2016.

'Resisting Melodrama: The Legacies of A Birth of a Nation during Hollywood’s ‘Race Year.’ Art Culture & Ethics in Black and White: A Birth of a Nation Symposium, Liverpool International Slavery Museum, November 2015.

'Zanuck Knows Best: Gratitude and Attitude in Hollywood's 'Race Year.'' Historians of the Twentieth Century United States Annual Conference, University of East Anglia, Norwich, June 2015.

'The Citizen Writer Inside the Studio Gates: Albert Maltz during Warner Bros.' War Years.' British Association of American Studies 60th Conference, University of Northhumbria, April 2015.

'"Metro-Goldwyn-Moscow": Dore Schary at MGM, 1948-1956.' Film & History Conference 2014: Golden Ages, Madison WI, November 2014.

‘Dore Schary’s Social Conscience: Addressing Japanese American Internment in Postwar Hollywood.’ British Association of Film and Television Studies Conference, Birkbeck Institute of the Moving Image, University of London, April 2014.

‘Sensationalism and Specious Melodrama: The Spectacle of Lynching in Storm Warning (1951).’ Film and Media 2013: The Pleasures of the Spectacle, Institute of Education Conference Centre, University of London, June 2013.

‘The Spectacular Failure of Darryl F. Zanuck’s Wilson (1944).’ Watching Politics: An Interdisciplinary Symposium of the Impact of Visual Culture on Politics, Department of Film and Television Studies and Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick, May 2013.

‘Race, Citizenship and Recruitment: Dore Schary’s Go For Broke (1951) and Hollywood’s Social Conscience.’ Theatre Film and Television Studies Department 4th Postgraduate Symposium, University of York, May 2013.

‘Under the Cover of Whiteness: Restoring a Power to Racial Ambiguity in Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece’s Graphic Novel Incognegro (2008).’ The Interdisciplinary Study of Race in the Americas Conference, University of Birmingham, April 2013.

‘They Didn’t Dig Dinner: The Production and Reception of Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967).’ Popular Culture Association and American Cultural Association National Conference, Washington, D.C., March 2013.

Event Organising

Hardboiled History: A Noir Lens on America’s Past, a one-day conference sponsored by the History Department, Humanities Research Centre of the University of Warwick and the British Association of American Studies, May 2017. Co-organised with Esther Wright.

Co-organiser of the two-day History Postgraduate Conference as part of The University of Warwick’s Postgraduate Festival of Arts sponsored by the Centre for Arts Doctoral Research Excellence, May 2016.

Grants and Awards

2015-2016 Dissertation Fellowship, Harry Ransom Centre, University of Texas, Austin. Supported by the Creekmore and Adele Faith Charitable Foundation and the University of Texas at Austin Office of Graduate Studies ($1500).

2015 Postgraduate Essay Prize, Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS). For the essay, ‘The Value of an Endorsement: Reassessing Hollywood’s ‘Race Year’ Through the Debate over Pinky (1949)' (£100).


Hannah Graves

H dot E dot P dot Graves at warwick dot ac dot uk