Film & Media Screenings

British Blonde

Free admission

Cosponsored by the Yale Center for British Art and the Film and Media Studies Program, Yale University 

In the 2023–2024 Paul Mellon Lectures, titled “British Blonde: Women, Desire and the Image in Post-War Britain,” art historian Lynda Nead looks at postwar Britain through changing styles of femininity that expressed many of the nation’s key concerns in the twenty-five years after the Second World War. In the 1950s, American glamour was exported to a war-torn Britain, as part of a larger passage of commodities that crossed the Atlantic in this period. In the process, blonde became British, and Marilyn Monroe became Diana Dors. The lectures capture this process as it evolved through the 1950s and 1960s and was subjected to the changing definitions of class, desire, and social aspiration that shaped the postwar nation. On Wednesday, April 3, Nead will present her lecture on Pauline Boty at Hastings Hall.

The Paul Mellon Centre commissioned four short video essays from filmmakers Catherine Grant and John Wyver that respond to, but do not illustrate, the material in Nead’s lectures. Exploring the medium of the essay film, Grant and Wyver work with still and moving images to develop ideas concerning women and desire and the visual imagery of Diana Dors, Barbara Windsor, Ruth Ellis, and Pauline Boty. Please join us for a screening of these films, followed by a panel discussion with Nead and the filmmakers, moderated by Oksana Chefranova, associate research scholar in film and media studies. The discussion will cover some of the films’ themes as well as their aesthetic and technical qualities and explore a broader debate about film as research. 

Lynda Nead is Pevsner Professor of History of Art at Birkbeck, University of London. She has published widely on a range of art-historical subjects and particularly on the history of British visual culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her most recent book is The Tiger in the Smoke: Art and Culture in Post-War Britain (published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press). She holds advisory roles at several national art museums and galleries and is a trustee of the Holburne Museum and of Campaign for the Arts. She is currently writing a book called British Blonde: Women, Desire, and the Image in Post-War Britain. Beginning in September 2024, she will be visiting professor at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.


Catherine Grant is an honorary professor at Aarhus University, Denmark, and a senior research fellow at the University of Reading. Until 2020, she was professor of digital media and screen studies at Birkbeck, University of London. In that year, she was elected a member of the film, media, and visual studies section of Academia Europaea. She carries out her film and moving-image studies research mostly in the form of remix-based video essays. She also runs the “Film Studies for Free” social media platforms and is a founding co-editor of the award-winning peer-reviewed journal [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies.


John Wyver is a writer and media producer with Illuminations and professor of the arts on screen, University of Westminster. His screen versions of stage productions and his documentaries about the arts have been honored with a BAFTA, an International Emmy, and a Peabody Award, and have been shown on the BBC, Channel 4, and Sky as well as by foreign broadcasters and at numerous festivals. His publications include Screening the Royal Shakespeare Company: A Critical History (2019) and a forthcoming cultural history of early television, Magic Rays of Light (2025). For his short films responding to “British Blonde,” he collaborated with cinematographer and editor Todd MacDonald and graphic designer Ian Cross.


Oksana Chefranova is an associate research scholar in film and media studies at Yale University. She is working on her first book, From Garden to Kino: Evgenii Bauer and the Expanded Environment of Early Cinema. The book research is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship, and it is under contract with Rutgers University Press. Her other projects focus on experimental cinema, artists’ moving image, atmosphere, post-landscape, arboreal humanities, women filmmakers, and history and theory of camera movement. Oksana’s works appeared in Apparatus, Cinema & Cie, and NECSUS. She also works as a film curator, and recently initiated a new film series, Cinécritures: Women in Film, at Yale. Oksana is currently collaborating with a French filmmaker on a short film, The Accident

Top image
Daniel Farson, Barbara Windsor, 1963, bromide print © estate of Daniel Farson / National Portrait Gallery London