SOAS University of London

Centre for Creative Industries, Media and Screen Studies

Kerstin Fooken



Kerstin Fooken
Kerstin Fooken
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Thesis title:
Camille in Crisis – Adaptation, Stardom and Scandal in La Dame aux Camélias on the Japanese Silent Screen
Year of Study:
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PhD Research

Camille in Crisis –

Adaptation, Stardom and Scandal in La Dame aux Camélias on the Japanese Silent Screen

Through a contextualised focus on one scandalous Japanese film production from 1927, this thesis casts a spotlight on transnational practices, intermedial connections and the circumscribed power of female film stars in the Japanese silent film industry. The main aim of my research is to reconstruct the adaptation of La Dame aux Camélias set in Japan and to analyse the scandal it caused as an exemplary case study that highlights the discursive interplay of film industrial practices and public engagement with the medium. I argue that these analyses offer insights into how cinema could become such an important player in local discourses on the experiences of Japanese modernity, changing gender relations, as well as into the political nature of the production and consumption of popular media images and star texts more generally.

As the film itself is currently not known to be extant, my approach is informed by film historians like Eric Smoodin (2007, 2014) or Shelley Stamp (2015) who advocate to ‘look past the screen’ to explore other materials for a form of ‘film scholarship without films’. This thesis formulates an original contribution to the fields of Film History and Japanese Studies by compiling, analysing and socio-culturally contextualising a wide range of Japanese primary archival source materials, the majority of which has not yet been subject of academic research. These materials facilitate new insights into film’s emancipation from the older art forms of literature and theatre and increasing intermedial connections to newer media like the radio and record industries, frictions between the emerging director and star systems as well as into unprecedented levels of public engagement. As such, they show the medium at a time when many structures were put into place that would shape the Japanese film industry also beyond the silent film period for many decades to come.