Invasion: Legitimate Language and the Coming of Sound in the Nottingham Evening Post, 1928-1930
Historians tend to place the arrival of sound cinema within the public experience in 1927, with the American premiere of The Jazz Singer. Yet British audiences did not hear the talkies until the film’s London premiere in 1928, and sound did not reach Nottingham until a year after that. For most British audiences, particularly those outside of London, the coming of sound was almost entirely witnessed through the reportage of the press. In this presentation, I explore the ways in which provincial newspapers discussed the coming of the talkies, focusing in particular on stories from the Nottingham Evening Post between 1928 and 1930. Sound cinema in the early years was almost entirely an American phenomenon, and worries brewed about the damaging effects of American English. The influx of talkies from Hollywood served as a concentrated and unprecedented challenge to linguistic hegemony. This presentation argues that a nationalist narrative directly informed the reporting of sound cinema during the late 1920s. I will explore this idea in two ways. Firstly, with an exploration of the rhetoric and identity politics of the mainstream press, discussing these characteristics as they appear in reporting on the talkies in the Nottingham Evening Post. Secondly, with a focus on the question of language specifically, using a Bourdieusian framework of linguistic economics as a mode of understanding, and touching upon issues of class and social power.
A presentation as part of British Silent Film Festival symposium held at King's College London, April 2015.
Citation : Sibanda, N. (2017) Invasion: Legitimate Language and the Coming of Sound in the Nottingham Evening Post, 1928-1930. British Silent Film Festival Symposium, King's College London, April 2015.
Research Group : Cinema and Television History Research Centre
Peer Reviewed : No
- Leicester Media School