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Dr Chris O'Rourke

Associate Professor in Film & Television Studies
Room FAB1.26, Faculty of Arts Building
University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7HS


I hold a BA (Hons) in English from Jesus College, Cambridge, where I also gained an MPhil in Screen Media and Cultures and a PhD in English, specialising in film history. Before joining Warwick, I was a postdoctoral researcher and teaching fellow in Film Studies at University College London (UCL), and a lecturer in film and television history at the University of Lincoln. I am a convenor of the BAFTSS LGBTQIA+ Screen Studies special interest groupLink opens in a new window, and a special issues editor for the journal Early Popular Visual CulturesLink opens in a new window.

Research Interests

My main research interests are early and silent cinema, British cinema, queer and trans film histories, and screen archives and archival research methods. I welcome PhD proposals relating to any of those areas.

My current research focuses on the history of queer and trans labour behind the scenes in British cinema, from the silent era onwards. I am especially interested in using archival evidence, along with ideas and methods from queer studies, production studies and labour history, to explore the contributions and personal experiences of LGBTQ+ movie workers. As part of this project, I am currently researching the film work of the costume and production designer Oliver Messel (funded by a BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant).

My first book Acting for the Silent Screen: Film Actors and Aspiration between the Wars (I.B. Tauris/Bloomsbury)Link opens in a new window, examined the early years of film acting in British cinema, up to the end of the 1920s. I was interested in how the discourse around film acting as a distinct profession and set of skills developed in this period, and how it fed into early notions of screen stardom as a vehicle for social mobility and self-fashioning. The book also looked for ways to recover the experiences of those film fans, especially young, working-class women, who attempted (and often failed) to become film actors themselves.

I have also undertaken research into the early history of film exhibition in the UK, some of which appears on the scholarly website London's Silent CinemasLink opens in a new window, and I am the co-editor, with Pam Hirsch, of the essay collection London on Film (Palgrave)Link opens in a new window.


Journal Articles
Book Chapters


Undergraduate modules

Silent Cinema (FI208/FI346) (module convenor)

Queer Screens (FI210/FI353)

Postgraduate modules

Screen Cultures and Methods (FI908) (module convenor)

Queer + Trans Theory for Film and TV (FI943)

Office Hours

Tuesdays & Fridays: check the Film and Television Studies Hub on Moodle for times and to make an appointment

Departmental Roles

Director of Undergraduate Studies