Researching historical promotional materials: Towards a new methodology

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Promotional materials – posters, trailers, press / campaign books, lobby cards – have been part of the commercial film industry for almost as long as there have been films to advertise. The history of these materials, their creators, and the industries that produced them remains largely unexplored territory in film and media history, even while academic interest in such materials has increased over the last decade. This article argues that much of the existing scholarly work on promotional materials – including the most recent ‘paratextual turn’ – lacks a strong methodology for approaching, selecting and analysing such materials. Through an exploration of academic theories and approaches currently used within historical promotional material scholarship, the article considers the limitations of the current dominance of textual studies, and proposes new methodological steps to help refine and enhance the future of studies of promotional materials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-662
Number of pages20
JournalHistorical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
Issue number4
Early online date10 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • promotional materials
  • film
  • trailers
  • posters
  • press books
  • methodology

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