Author: Nick Nam

Questions and Answers

The best year to create a comprehensive history of the Campus Theatre would have been 1941 — the year it opened. 77 years later and it’s a little more challenging.

5 weeks into the summer research and I seem to learn something new about the shape of my project every day. One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is how in-depth I could be getting while digitizing this cinema’s history. What facets of the history of the theater will receive the most attention? For a while it seemed like the only answer to this question was, “I’m not sure yet. I’m trying to figure it out by the end of the week.” After many of these weeks in digital scholarship limbo, I think I’ve come up with an answer.

As one might expect, an obstacle that I face on a day-to-day basis is finding data in archives and newspaper articles relevant to my research. What a project of this scale needs is time and though the eight weeks that the program affords might not be enough to cover the entire history of the Campus Theatre in as much depth as I’d like, it does allow for a more focused study into a smaller time frame of the theater’s history.

After giving it much thought, my research will now be focused on The Campus Theatre’s first five years of existence with special attention paid to its role in the war effort during World War II and  the implications of the programming at the time. In digitizing the first year of screenings at the Campus Theatre, one can see a trend in the type of films they began to show as the war escalated with more and more war-related films being shown subsequent to the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

In changing the scope I hope to use the tools and resources associated with digital scholarship to present and visualize a more meaningful set of data represented in these first five years than I could have done with the first seven decades of the theatre’s history in the allotted time frame. The goal of my research is now centered around more so discovering more about what types of films were being produced during this time period, what types of films were being sent to a small single-screen art deco theatre in central Pennsylvania and what this says about film production, distribution and exhibition during this period. My research will also present the types of things that the Campus Theatre did to assist the war effort. In its first year after its founding, it held many U.S.O. events and was an outlet where war bonds and stamps were sold.

As of now, I am excited to see what other information this period of time tells us about our history.

Project Charter

A History of the Campus Theatre

The research that I am undertaking this summer will be, as the title suggests, creating a more comprehensive history of the Campus Theatre located at 413 Market St. The tools associated with digital humanities will allow to not only access data associated with the history art deco theater but will also enable me to present this data in a more suitable manner than would be achievable through traditional research methods.

In creating a more complete history of the Campus Theatre, I hope to both discover and present events which have characterized this particular movie theater and transformed a building into a home for the memories of all who have experienced a film playing there. Of interest to me in particular are the Theatre’s founding, renovations that the building has been through, past screenings, special events and the like.

As the Theatre was founded in 1941, the scope of my research will not likely cover the 77 years since its founding but I hope to begin a fuller picture of the Theatre that may continue to grow after the eight weeks stipulated by the Digital Scholarship Summer Research (DSSR) program have ended.

With regard to an audience, I hope that anyone who has felt a strong connection to the Campus Theatre, whether they be a Bucknell student or a local of the area, will come across the project and will develop a deeper appreciation for the rich history of the Theatre.

As far as I have researched, I have not come across any projects that resemble the one I hope to complete — that is, projects that hope to digitize a history of a specific movie theater. With that being said, the information that I will be seeking out will come from sources unique to the Campus Theatre such as newspaper articles, magazines, archives, etc.

I hope to continue the process of digitizing the Campus Theatre’s rich history even after my research ends. Whether it be in the form of compiling information with regards to past screenings, or digitizing contemporary events, I hope to continue the project as history is a continual process and I believe that should be reflected in the work.

I would love to continue the work if possible though it would have to be on a smaller scale. If any staff of the Campus Theatre or Campus Theatre enthusiast would like to carry on the legacy of the project after this summer, that would be welcome too.

More About the Project


The Campus Theatre is a unique experience that tends to surprise those who enter into its doors for the first time.  As commercial films continue to fill the screens of multiplexes that are ubiquitous to American communities, it becomes tougher and tougher to see anything that was produced outside of a Hollywood studio while  “going out to the movies.”

What the Campus Theatre has offered patrons in recent years is something different.

People who have found themselves overcome by their own curiosity and susceptible to the gravitational pull of the building situated at 413 Market Street will tell you that the first thing that strikes them is the facade of the building. The vintage looking marquee gives the illusion that the theatre is stuck in the era in which it was built but upon stepping inside one can see that it is actually a capsule of modernity. The beautiful images that line the walls and ceiling of the interior of the theatre are only overshadowed by the images projected onto the singular screen in the auditorium.

Over the course of any given week, one may have a chance to see a number of classic, contemporary or even unheard of films. With the curatorial standard of the Campus Theatre being on such a high level, one can always be sure that whatever screens within the Campus Theatre will be quality.


These are only a few of the many reasons by which The Campus Theatre has been selected as the subject of research. It may come as no surprise that single-screen art deco theaters across the country are going out of business for a number of reasons with one of the main ones being the emergence of digital film streaming platforms. What the Campus Theatre offers is a space for individuals to congregate, appreciate film exhibition of the highest standard and to socialize. These things that are afforded by the Campus Theatre cannot be found in many other places.

This project aims to raise awareness of and to commemorate the Campus Theatre and its mission to “present programming that includes the screening of art, classic and modern films, live performance, and enhanced film programming experiences, all steeped in the rich atmosphere of the authentic Art Deco, single-screen American theatre experience.” To this end, the project  presents a comprehensive historical context through which one may view the Campus Theatre and gain a better understanding of how it has transformed over the past seven decades.

Week One

I was drawn to the Fellowship program because of my interest in finding new ways to approach and present information. The subject of my research — The Campus Theatre — has been one of my favorite places to spend free time in Lewisburg since arriving at Bucknell in August of 2015. Founded in 1941, at the height of World War II, this theatre has proven to be more than just a movie palace. I believe that the theatre at 413 Market Street deserves a comprehensive retelling of it’s very rich and complex history. With this being the case, I saw no better way to do this than with the tools afforded to me through the Digital Scholarship Student Research Fellowship.

In using the resources available through digital scholarship I hope to present a unabridged visual and textual history of the Campus Theatre and thereby providing a more whole context to it’s place in Lewisburg’s history. Though it has only recently been acquired by Bucknell, it has always held the same location on Market Street. In using the technologies available through my research this summer, I imagine that I will be surprised at what I uncover about the Campus Theatre’s past. Data visualization programs are of great interest to me as a way for me to present this data in a unique and user-friendly way. I will not limit myself to data visualization, however and will be looking at the array of tools that will optimize both my research and the presentation of my findings.

Apart from learning about new ways to use technology to learn about and presenting of new information, I was drawn to the idea of working in a small team with other students. Though we will be working on different research, it drives me to know that these individuals will be working towards a similar goal: the sharing of ideas. After a week together, we a re a pretty tight knit group and I am hopeful that this will continue for the remainder of the program even as we go off to conduct research on our own terms.

In digitizing a comprehensive history of the Campus Theatre I hope to include essential components such as a history of screenings, a history of ownership, a history of renovations, along with a myriad of other things. Though this information is useful in it’s own right I will conclude my research by using this data to look at larger trends associated with screenings in small movie theatres in small, rural towns and the implications associated with it. Like most of in the group, this is my first time doing any time of extensive academic research but like them I am hopeful that the things I will discover will be telling.

Nick Nam ’19

Nicholas Nam is a Film/Media Studies scholar in his fourth year at Bucknell University. This summer, his research will focus on the historic Campus Theatre with attention placed mostly on the history of its founding, ownership, and exhibition. In conducting this research, Nicholas’ goal is not only to digitize a comprehensive database for the Campus Theatre but also to look at wider socio-political trends associated with film exhibition within small, rural American towns.