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Dr Tom Rice

Senior Lecturer in Film Studies

With a focus on film history, my research examines the relationship between political and cultural movements and cinema. My initial research centred on early American cinema, looking at the connection between cinema and conservative forces in the US in the 1920s. These ideas are explored in my book, White Robes, Silver Screens: Movies and the Making of the Ku Klux Klan (Indiana University Press, 2015) which examines the role of cinema in the formation, development and demise of the Ku Klux Klan between 1915 and 1944. Through a range of sources – including Klan newspapers, censorship files, and personal papers – the book explores the ways in which the Klan used, produced and protested against film in order to recruit members, generate publicity and define itself as a traditional, Protestant American organisation. I have spoken on aspects of this work for TV and written articles based on this research for publications including The Guardian and The Conversation.

I have also worked extensively on British colonial, world and transnational cinemas, serving as the senior postdoctoral researcher on a major 3 year AHRC funded project, entitled Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire (2007-2010). I have written historical essays on more than 200 films and production companies, which can be found at www.colonialfilm.org.uk. These essays cover a broad range of geographical areas, periods and genres including, for example, British sponsored documentaries, war propaganda, amateur films, African health films, Indian newsreels, and early travelogues. I have spoken on aspects of this research in America, Europe, India and Hong Kong, and have helped organise film seasons, conferences and educational programmes utilising the colonial film materials. I have a number of publications in related areas – from early educational film in Britain to mobile film exhibition in Africa – and am currently writing a book on the Colonial Film Units (1939-1960), which extends my interest in didactic and non-theatrical film practices, by exploring the establishment and growth of the Colonial Film Units (in England, Africa, Malaya and the Caribbean) during the 1940s and 50s.

I have served a wide range of administrative roles at St Andrews, most recently as Director of Teaching and Exams Officer for Film Studies and have worked closely with staff and students in developing all aspects of our teaching programme at St Andrews.

I am also Co-Director (with Dr Joshua Yumibe) of Cinema St Andrews, an archival research project established in 2011. For more information go to http://cinemastandrews.org.uk.

I am on research leave until January 2018, having been awarded a one year Leverhulme Fellowship to work on a project entitled ‘Watching Empire Dissolve: Through the Lens of the Colonial Film Units’.




White Robes, Silver Screens: Movies and the Making of the Ku Klux Klan (Indiana University Press, 2015)


'Merdeka for Malaya: Imagining Independence across the British Empire', in I Aitken & C Deprez (eds), The Colonial Documentary Film in South and South-East Asia (Edinburgh University Press, 2016).

'Are you proud to be British?: Mobile film shows, local voices and the demise of the British Empire in Africa', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television,  vol. 36, no.3 (September 2016), 331-351.

'"Damage unwittingly done": D.W. Griffith and the re-Birth of the Ku Klux Klan', in Charlie Keil (ed.), A Companion to D.W. Griffith (MA: Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming)

(with Joshua Yumibe) 'Chariots of Fire re-run: Locating film's cultural capital on a contemporary stage', Journal of British Cinema and Television, 12:3, (2015), 321-341.

'Distant Voices of Malaya, Still Colonial Lives', Journal of British Cinema and Television, vol 10, no. 3 (2013), pp. 430-451.

'Exhibiting Africa: British Instructional Films and the Empire Series (1925-8)' in Lee Grieveson & Colin MacCabe (eds), Empire and Film, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp. 115-133.

'From the Inside: The Colonial Film Unit and the Beginning of the End' in Lee Grieveson & Colin MacCabe (eds), Film and the End of Empire (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp. 135-153.

'“The True Story of the Ku Klux Klan”: Defining the Klan through Film', Journal of American Studies, vol 42, no. 3 (2008), pp. 471-488.

'Protecting Protestantism: The Ku Klux Klan vs. The Motion Picture Industry', Film History, vol 20, no. 3 (2008), pp. 367-380.


'Linking Trump to the Ku Klux Klan risks boosting a rump organisation', The Guardian online, 28 November 2016.

'British Empire's Forgotten Propaganda Tool for "Primitive Peoples": Mobile Cinema', The Conversation, 24 August 2016.

How the Ku Klux Klan Seized Cinema to Become a Force in America’, The Conversation, 8 December 2015.

'Review of A Companion to Early Cinema', Screen 54:4 (December 2013), 547-549.

'Changing the World: Sean Graham' (Interview with Peter Bloom and Emma Sandon), Journal of British Cinema and Television, vol 10, no. 3 (2013), pp. 524-536.

'Opening the Colonial Film Archive', Frames , vol 1, no. 1 (2012).

'Colonial Film and the Royals' in A Royal Occasion: From Queen Victoria to Elizabeth II. BFI DVD edn, British Film Institute, 2012, pp. 23-25.

'Films for the Colonies', Sight and Sound , vol 21, no. 12, November 2011, pp. 12-13.

Cinema St Andrews. Short entries on local cinema history, published online since 2011.

Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire (2010). More than 200 historical essays on individual films and production companies.

'From Cape to Cairo', curated season at BFI Mediatheque with 30 entries on selected films (2010).

Contributions to BFI Screenonline ('God's Chillun' and 'Crossing the Great Sahara'), 2009.

'God's Chillun (1938)' in We Live in Two Worlds: GPO Film Unit Collection. vol. 2, British Film Institute DVD (2009), pp. 65-66.


'Watching The Face at Your Window: The KKK in Atlanta', SCMS Conference, Atlanta, 30 March–3 April 2016.

(Workshop participant) 'Moving Images online: Revisiting the Colonial Film Website', Audiovisual Aids: Producing Media Adjuncts to Scholarly Publications, SCMS Conference, Atlanta, 30 March–3 April 2016.

‘Working through the end of Empire’, Films that Work: The Circulations of Industrial Film, Frankfurt, 15-18 December 2015.

'Children of the Empire', Children and Non-Theatrical Media Conference, University of Glasgow, April 2014.

'The Moving Image: Digitising the Colonial Film Archive', Many Lives of Indian Cinema, 1913-2013 and Beyond, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, 9-11 January 2014.

'Travelling Producer: William Sellers and the Movement of Colonial Film', Connected Histories of Empire, University of Bristol, July 2013.

'Are you Proud to be British: Mobile Film Shows, Local Voices and the Demise of the British Empire', Screen Studies Conference, University of Glasgow, July 2012.

'Voices of Malaya at the End of Empire', Documentary Film/Hong Kong/ Grierson, Hong Kong Baptist University, January 2012.

'Watching Audiences: The Colonial Film Unit and the (mobile) Exhibition of Empire, Film Cultures: Historical Perspectives, EFL University, Hyderabad, October 2011.

'Africans in England: The Colonial Film Unit and the Beginning of the End', Film and the End of Empire, University of Pittsburgh, September 2010.

Research supervision

I would welcome approaches from research students working on projects related to aspects of film history, colonial cinema, British documentary, early American cinema, world cinemas (especially pre-1960), non-theatrical film practices, and educational and government film. I would be particularly interested in supervising projects that engage with primary research materials or that work with film archives.

I am currently supervising: