Film & Media Studies
Office: Rich Bldg 109B
Additional Contact Information
- PhD, University of Pittsburgh, 2010
- BA, Brown University, 2001
My research and teaching focus on film, digital media, and video games. My writing explores transmedia genres, emerging media technologies, and the intersections between analog and digital media. In particular, I explore how the emergence of digital technology in the late twentieth century transformed the ways in which various media forms articulate a sense of realism and generate discourses of authenticity.
My first book, Destructive Sublime: World War II in American Film and Media, was published by Rutgers University Press in 2018. In the book, I challenge conventional notions of the American war genre by showing how combat sequences are often aesthetically—and politically—radical. I introduce the term “destructive sublime” to denote images of war that turn violence into spectacle and excite spectators with a wide range of sometimes contradictory sensations.By using the language of the destructive sublime, combat films, video games, and other media temporarily upend traditional ideas about World War II, long portrayed in American culture as the “good war” fought for the ideals of freedom and democracy. Instead, the media I analyze—ranging from 1940s documentaries like The Battle of San Pietro (1945) to contemporary media like Saving Private Ryan (1998), Dunkirk (2017), and the video game Brothers in Arms (2005)—use spectacular violence to remind us of the inescapable brutality and cruel devastation of war.
A second line of research explores digital visual effects in film, animation, and video games. My work argues that visual effects now subtend all aspects of the contemporary cinematic image, from pre-production to editing, actors’ performances, cinematography, and production design. I am currently at work on a book project exploring the technology of motion capture (using a performer’s movements to drive a digital character) and issues of identity, especially race, gender, age, and ability. I examine the social and cultural implications of motion capture as a technique that does not capture the external appearance of actors and thus has been praised for allowing a particular fluidity of identity. By examining the gendered and raced performers and characters created through motion capture, I test whether the technology treats all bodies equally.
I have been teaching at Emory since 2011. I introduced the university’s first courses on Video Games and Digital Media and Culture. I regularly teach these two courses, as well as Introduction to Film, War and Media, and research methods courses.
- Film and Media Genres
- War Media and Militarism
- Digital Media and Video Games
- Special and Visual Effects
- Technology and Identity
Awards and Grants
- University Research Committee, Emory University, 2015–2016
- American Council of Learned Societies New Faculty Fellowship, 2011–2013
- Fund for Innovative Teaching Grant, “Video Games in the Academy,” Center for Faculty
- Development and Excellence, Emory University, 2011–2012
Destructive Sublime: World War II in American Film and Media (Rutgers University Press, 2018)
“Virtue Through Suffering: The American War Film at the End of Celluloid,” Journal of Popular Film and Television45.1 (March 2017): 50–61.
“More than a Man in a Monkey Suit: Andy Serkis, Motion Capture, and Digital Realism,” Quarterly Review of Film and Video28.4 (July 2011): 325–341.
“The World War II Video Game, Adaptation, and Postmodern History,” Literature/Film Quarterly38.3 (July 2010): 183–193.
Essays in Edited Collections
“Visual Effects: The Modern Entertainment Marketplace (2000-present),” Editing and Special/Visual Effects, edited by Kristen Whissel and Charlie Keil, Behind the Silver Screen Series (Rutgers University Press, 2016), 172–185.
“How to Recognize a War Movie: The Contemporary Science Fiction Blockbuster as Military Recruitment Film,” A Companion to the War Film, edited by Douglas A. Cunningham and John Nelson (Wiley Blackwell, 2016), 253–270.
“Blackface, Happy Feet: The Politics of Race in Motion Capture and Animation,” Special Effects: New Histories, Theories, Contexts, edited by Dan North, Bob Rehak, and Michael Duffy (BFI/Palgrave, 2015), 114–126.