Dr Jennifer Voss

Job: Postdoctoral Researcher

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Humanities and Performing Arts

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: N/A

E: jennifer.voss@dmu.ac.uk


Personal profile

Jennifer Voss has been researching and teaching at DMU since 2015. In 2022, Jennifer completed her PhD in Drama and Film History; a project funded Midlands 4 Cities in partnership with the AHRC. Jennifer’s doctoral research explored women’s performances of emotion during the transition from silent to sound cinema in Britain and the US. Her work uses close performance analysis alongside archival research to offer an interdisciplinary investigation into acting training practices and women’s experiences of screen acting.

In 2023, Jennifer was awarded funding for a postdoctoral research project titled, 'Scrapbooking Screencraft: Exploring Performativity, Agency, and Women’s Screen Acting in the Archive’. This project explores the British fan-made scrapbooks of 1920s and 1930s film stars held within DMU’s Special Collections, and considers them alongside scrapbooks and ephemera held at a number of national archives. Through the creation of digital, performance-based, and site-specific exhibitions, Jennifer’s work seeks to identify, dissect and examine the performative personas of key screen actresses featured within the scrapbooks.

In addition to her academic research and teaching, Jennifer also has extensive experience working in various roles within a number of university archives, including: DMU Special Collections, Hammer Script Archive, Peter Whitehead Archive, and the Indian Cinema Archive. 

Publications and outputs

  • (Upcoming) “Catch ’em young, treat ’em rough, tell ’em nothing”: A Study into Emotional Exploitation of Women and Silent Film Performance, in Karen McNally (ed.) Women and Hollywood: Tales of Inequality, Abuse and Resistance in the Dream Factory Detroit: Wayne State University Press
  • (2023) ‘A Performance Studies Perspective on Fan Magazine Images and Silent Film Acting’, in Tamar Jeffers McDonald, Lies Lanckman, Sarah Polley (eds.) Desire by Design: Stars, Fan Magazines and Audiences, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
  • (2018) Review of Tom Cantrell and Christopher Hogg (eds) Exploring Television Acting, London: Bloomsbury, Methuen Drama, published in Journal of British Cinema and Television, 16:1

Research interests/expertise

  • Acting Training
  • Performance Histories
  • Performance Analysis
  • Screen Acting
  • Stardom
  • Film and Performance Archives
  • Women’s Film Histories
  • Silent Film
  • Early Sound Film

Areas of teaching

  • Acting/Movement
  • Naturalism
  • Performance/Theatre Histories
  • Critical Theory and Analysis
  • Film History/Screen Performance


  • PhD in Drama and Film History
  • Masters by Research in Drama and Film
  • BA (Hons) First Class in Drama and Media Communications 

Conference attendance

  • 2021, [Keynote] 'Norah Baring and Madeleine Carroll: A***** H********’s Leading Ladies', Hidden Women in Popular Culture, Women's History Network and Midlands Network of Popular Culture
  • 2021, ‘Here nature betrays her: A performance studies perspective on movie magazines, scrapbooks, and silent film acting', Returning to the Page: Visualising Design and Desire in Fan Magazines, Network of Research: Movies, Magazines and Audiences Conference, Online
  • 2020, 'Magazines, Mythologies and the Mad Silent Star: Using the Archive to Reframe Women’s Experiences in Early Hollywood', Stardom and the Archive Symposium, University of Exeter
  • 2018, 'Fairy-tales, Film Stars, and Fragmented Histories: Using the Archive to Uncover Women’s Experiences in Early Hollywood,' New Approaches to Silent Film Historiography: Technology, Spectatorship and the Archive, University of Leeds
  • 2018, ‘Catch ‘em young, treat ‘em rough, tell ‘em nothing: A Study into the Emotional Exploitation of Women in Silent Cinema', Women in Hollywood Symposium, De Montfort University
  • 2017, 'Women, Emotion, and Melodrama: Reconsidering Performative Perspectives of Melodrama for the Silent Screen', Genre Studies: Now! BAFTSS Annual Conference, University of Bristol
  • 2016, '"The Hardest Working Girl in Hollywood": Clara Bow, Louise Brooks and the Welfare of the Performer,' Doing Women's Film and Television History III: Structures of Feeling, Women's Film and Television History Network, Phoenix Cinema, Leicester
  • 2016, 'The Emotional Machine: Clara Bow, Louise Brooks and the Welfare of the Performer in Training', Drama and Performance Conference, Sapienza University, Rome

Externally funded research grants information

Midlands 4 Cities funded Postdoctoral Project, 'Scrapbooking Screencraft: Exploring Performativity, Agency, and Women’s Screen Acting in the Archive'

PhD project

PhD title

Performing Emotion: Women's screen acting and the transition from silent to sound cinema, 1926-1934


Utilising performance theories developed within drama studies, this project will bring an interdisciplinary perspective to traditional film history scholarship, in the investigation of women’s performances of emotion during the transition from silent to sound cinema. Contributing to the development of women’s film history, this thesis will consider ​a range of key actresses, including Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Joan Crawford, Norah Baring, Madeleine Carroll and Mabel Poulton, in a comparative study of their silent and sound performances within films from Britain and America from 1926 -1934. Adhering to a feminist perspective, the focus on these women’s necessarily evolving and carefully constructed performances of emotion, will serve to challenge essentialist ideologies that highlight women as naturally aligned with emotion​.