The organizing principle of this conference was to explore questions of “deep time” in film and media studies. Understood as a metaphor signaling the time spans over which geological, evolutionary, and cosmic phenomena unfold, deep time has become an enticing concept for thinkers addressing the precarious entanglement of modern institutions with planetary systems. Invoking radically long-term perspectives makes sense in a time of climate change, mass extinction, and the “Anthropocene.”

The conference examined how various media/works (including films, video games, art installations, interactive digital timelines, as well as “precinematic” materials like fossil collections, scientific diagrams, stratigraphic cuts) represent great swaths of time or imperceptibly gradual processes, stage affective encounters between human sensibilia and inhuman timescales, or exemplify how such timescales warp and denature traditional conceptions of narrative, agency, proportion, and eventfulness. It exploree how deep time reframes theoretical and methodological issues for film and media studies, both in the field’s potential affiliations with the environmental and natural sciences, and in the ways deep time might disrupt conventional geographic and periodizing paradigms for understanding media history. Participants addressed topics such as scale-shifting, the epistemic work of scientific visualization and instrumentation, and the buried histories of race and violence in constituting (non)human temporalities, as well as the ways in which the very concepts of “media” and “mediation” can be rethought via the objects and forms that throw us into relation with deep time.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Pollock Theater

7:00 PM Screening and discussion of Last Things (2023)
With director Deborah Stratman
Moderated by Alex Lilburn, Film and Media Studies, UCSB
Visit this page to reserve free tickets.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Wallis Annenberg Conference Room, 4315 Social Sciences and Media Studies Building (SSMS)

9:00 AM Introduction and welcome
Patrice Petro, Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center, UC Santa Barbara
Hannah Goodwin, Film and Media Studies, Mount Holyoke College

9:30 AM Panel 1: Human/Inhuman
Bishnupriya Ghosh, English and Global Studies, UC Santa Barbara: “Primate Times in the Epidemic Episteme”
Jennifer Fay, Cinema & Media Arts and English, Vanderbilt University: “Deep Tissue, Deep Time”
Moderated by Hannah Goodwin, Film and Media Studies, Mount Holyoke College

10:45 AM break

11:00 AM Panel 2: Seeds, Gems, Minerals
Stephan Boman, Film and Media Studies, UC Berkeley: “From Stone to Stone: Fortune, Finitude, and the Mineral Economies of Uncut Gems”
Naomi DeCelles, Communication, University of Tampa: “Seed Rematriation’s Spatiotemporal Mediations at the Juncture of Food Sovereignty, Survivance, and Sonoran Solutionism”
Moderated by Charles Wolfe, Film and Media Studies, UC Santa Barbara

12:15 PM lunch

1:15 PM Panel 3: Hauntings and Afterlives
James Leo Cahill, Cinema Studies and French, University Toronto: “Stray Exposures (With/Out Measure)”
Marissa Parham, English and Digital Studies, University of Maryland – College Park: “Black Haints in the Anthropocene: Space, Digitality, and Environments of Memory”
Moderated by Kelsey Moore, Film and Media Studies, UC Santa Barbara

2:30 PM break

2:45 PM Panel 4: Philosophies of Time
Jimena Canales, American Council of Learned Societies: “As our Scientific Understanding of Time Changes, Does Time Change Too?”
Christina Vagt, Germanic and Slavic Studies, UC Santa Barbara: “Primacy of the Future: On Deep Time and Time Axis Manipulation”
Moderated by Lisa Parks, Film and Media Studies, UC Santa Barbara

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Wallis Annenberg Conference Room, 4315 Social Sciences and Media Studies Building (SSMS)

9:30 AM Panel 5: Entertaining the Prehistoric
Scott Curtis, Communication, Northwestern University: “About Time! Animation’s Plastic Approach to the Prehistoric”
Nathan Cox, Film and Media Studies, UC Santa Barbara: “Pleisto-Senility: Fabricating Continuity Through Simulation at Lascaux IV and Caverne du Pont-d’Arc”
Moderated by Peter Bloom, Film and Media Studies, UC Santa Barbara

10:45 AM break

11:00 AM Panel 6: Temporal Simulations
Brooke Belisle, Art History, Stony Brook University: “Predicting the Past: Simulating Supernovas with Supercomputers”
Colin Williamson, Cinema Studies, University of Oregon: “The Vibrations of the First Cell: Visualizing the Deep Time of Natural History in Early American Animation”
Moderated by Alenda Chang, Film and Media Studies, UC Santa Barbara

12:15 PM lunch

1:30 PM Panel 7: Confronting Deep Time
Selmin Kara, Film and New Media Studies, OCAD University: “Whispers of Undoing: Documentary Realism and Deep Time”
Charles Tung, English, Seattle University: “Viral Cultures and Media Epidemiology in Second Modernity”
Moderated by Paul Kim, Film and Media Studies, UC Santa Barbara

2:45 PM break

3:00 PM  Panel 8: The Anthropocene and Beyond
Weihong Bao, Film and Media, East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley: “Ornamental Time”
Claire Colebrook, English, Penn State University: “The Nethercene”
Moderated by Stephan Boman, Film and Media Studies, UC Berkeley

4:15 PM Closing remarks
Stephan Boman, Film and Media Studies, UC Berkeley
Patrice Petro, Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center, UCSB

Conference participants:

Weihong Bao is Pamela P. Fong and Family Distinguished Chair in China Studies and Associate Professor of Film and Media & East Asian Languages and Cultures at UC Berkeley. She has published widely on comparative media history and theory, media and environment, early cinema, war and modernity, affect theory, propaganda theory and practice, and Chinese-language cinema of all periods and regions. Her book Fiery Cinema: The Emergence of an Affective Medium in China, 1915-1945 (University of Minnesota Press, 2015) received an honorable mention for the Modernist Studies Association Best Book Prize in 2016. Her more recent work explores the relationship between medium and environment, by engaging intellectual history, political theory, cultural anthropology, and comparative media theory.

Brooke Belisle studies emergent, experimental, and immersive media aesthetics. Her research and publications reach from lens-based to computational media, and across art, science, and popular culture. Her first book, Depth Effects: Dimensionality from Camera to Computation (University of California Press, 2023), connects problems of AI-driven imaging with forgotten histories of photography. Her current project, Seeing Stars, will trace a media art history of visualizing the cosmos. She is an Associate Professor in Art and the Institute for Advanced Computational Science at Stony Brook University where she directs graduate programs in art and technology.

Stephan Boman is a Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley. His research works on issues at the intersection of film theory, environment, and scientific visual cultures. His book manuscript, Unstill Life: Evolution and the Inhuman Aesthetics of Time-Lapse Photography, examines how genres of time-lapse imagery have intersected with the visual, conceptual, and cultural projects of evolutionary theory. Stephan received his PhD in Film and Media Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

James Leo Cahill is Director of the Cinema Studies Institute of the University of Toronto, where is he also Associate Professor of Cinema Studies and French Literature. He is author of Zoological Surrealism: The Nonhuman Cinema of Jean Painlevé (Minnesota, 2019), editor with Luca Caminati of Cinema of Exploration: Essays in an Adventurous Film Practice (AFI/Routledge, 2021), and general editor of Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture. He is presently working two book projects: “Neither Dog nor Master: An Essay in Stray Thinking” and “On the Plurality of Worlds.”

Jimena Canales is an award-winning author and historian of science. Her books include Bedeviled: A Shadow History of Demons in Science (Princeton University Press, 2020; Cosmos Prize 2022), The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson, and the Debate That Changed Our Understanding of Time (Princeton University Press, 2015; Best Science Books 2015 Science Friday and NPR, Top Reads 2015 The Independent, Books of the Year 2016 The Tablet) and A Tenth of a Second: A History (University of Chicago Press, 2009; The Guardian’s Top 10 Books About Time). Her essays have been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Artforum, Aperture, Nautilus, and WIRED, as well as in numerous scholarly journals. She was previously Assistant and Associate Professor at Harvard University and the Thomas M. Siebel professor for the History of Science at the University of Illinois.

Claire Colebrook is the author of New Literary Histories (Manchester UP, 1997), Ethics and Representation (Edinburgh UP, 1999), Deleuze: A Guide for the Perplexed (Continuum 1997), Gilles Deleuze (Routledge 2002), Understanding Deleuze (Allen and Unwin 2002), Irony in the Work of Philosophy (Nebraska UP, 2002), Gender (Palgrave 2003), Irony (Routledge 2004), Milton, Evil and Literary History (Continuum 2008), Deleuze and the Meaning of Life (Continuum 2010), and William Blake and Digital Aesthetics (Continuum 2011).  She has written articles on visual culture, poetry, literary theory, queer theory and contemporary culture.  She recently completed two books on Extinction for Open Humanities Press: The Death of the Posthuman, and Sex After Life, and has co-authored (with Jason Maxwell) Agamben (Polity, 2015) and (with Tom Cohen and J.Hillis Miller) Twilight of the Anthropocene Idols (Open Humanities Press, 2016). Her most recent book is Who Would You Kill to Save the World? (Nebraska UP, 2023). She is now completing a book on fragility (of the species, the archive and the earth).

Nathan Cox is a PhD candidate in the Department of Film and Media Studies at UCSB. His research focuses on themed entertainment and multimedia exhibition, and explores the concept of Deep Time as a basis for discussing designed spaces in an ecomedia framework.  He has also written about animated musical shorts, special effects, and live holiday events, and has presented work at the joint conference for the Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association. He maintains an active studio art practice.

Scott Curtis is Associate Professor in the Department of Radio/Television/Film at Northwestern University and in the Communication Program at Northwestern University in Qatar. The author of The Shape of Spectatorship: Art, Science, and Early Cinema in Germany (Columbia University Press, 2015) and editor of Animation (Rutgers University Press, 2019), Curtis has published extensively on the scientific and medical uses of moving-image technology. His current project is titled Theory in Motion: Animation and the Scientific Imagination.

Naomi DeCelles is a film historian and translator interested in filmmakers and collectives whose work and legacies have been troubled by issues of access, legibility, and authorization. Currently, she is thinking about the Cuties (Maïmouna Doucouré, 2020) controversy and misogynoir in US populist politics; queer utopian revisions of western film iconography; and Civil War memorialization in the Sonoran Desert. DeCelles’s work has appeared in JCMSScreen, and Quarterly Review of Film and Video, and she is the author of Recollecting Lotte Eisner: Cinema, Exile, and the Archive (University of California Press, 2022). She teaches cinema and global media studies in her role as Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Tampa.

Jennifer Fay is Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Cinema & Media Arts and Chair of the Department of English at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of Inhospitable World: Cinema in the Time of the Anthropocene (Oxford, 2018) and has recently published essays in Critical InquiryScreen, and Representations. In addition to her ongoing interest in cinema and critical anthropocene studies, she is also working on a project concerning sincerity, opacity, and the media of appearance.

Bishnupriya Ghosh publishes in global media cultures, environmental media, and critical health studies. Her early research includes two monographs, When Borne Across: Literary Cosmopolitics in the Contemporary Indian Novel (Rutgers University Press, 2004) and Global Icons: Apertures to the Popular (Duke University Press, 2011), while her current research is exemplified by the co-edited volume The Routledge Companion to Media and Risk (Routledge, 2020) and a new monograph, The Virus Touch: Theorizing Epidemic Media (Duke University Press, 2023).

Selmin Kara is an Associate Professor of Film and New Media Studies at OCAD University. She is the co-editor of Contemporary Documentary (Routledge, 2015) and Cybermedia: Explorations in Science, Sound, and Vision (Bloomsbury, 2021). Her primary research interests are digital aesthetics and ecological sensibilities in cinema, as well as the use of sound and new technologies in contemporary documentary.

Marisa Parham is Professor of English and Digital Studies at the University of Maryland at College Park, where she directs the African American Digital and Experimental Humanities initiative (AADHUM), and is Associate Director for the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH). She holds affiliate faculty appointments in African and African American Studies, in the Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Cinema and Media Studies, and in the program in Comparative Literature. Parham also co-directs the Immersive Realities Lab for the Humanities (irLh), and currently chairs the ACLS Commission on Fostering and Sustaining Diverse Digital Scholarship. Parham’s current teaching and research projects focus on texts and technologies that problematize assumptions about time, space, and bodily materiality.

Charles M. Tung is Professor of English at Seattle University, where he teaches courses on twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature, temporal scale, and representations of racial anachronism. He is the author of Modernism and Time Machines (Edinburgh University Press, 2019). His recent work on timescales and modernity has appeared in Modernism and the Anthropocene (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021), Timescales: Thinking across Ecological Temporalities (University of Minnesota Press, 2020), ASAP/Journal, and Modernism/Modernity. His current project is on big clocks, expanded temporal scales, and racial futures.

Christina Vagt is Associate Professor of European Media Studies and German. She teaches media theory and European philosophy, and her research is focused on media theory in the context of science and engineering. Selected publications include “Impossible-Possible Machines” (communication +1, 2022), Action at A Distance (Minnesota University Press, 2020), “Design as Aesthetic Education: On the Politics and Aesthetics of Learning Environments” (History of the Human Sciences, 2020), and Geschickte Sprünge: Physik und Medium bei Martin Heidegger (Diaphanes, 2012).

Colin Williamson is Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies at the University of Oregon, and Associate Editor at Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal. He specializes in media archaeology and histories and theories of early cinema, animation, and the visual cultures of the sciences. He is the author of Hidden in Plain Sight: An Archaeology of Magic and the Cinema (Rutgers University Press, 2015), which charts the history of special effects films as forms of popular science education. His new book, Drawn to Nature: American Animation in the Age of Science (under contract University of Minnesota Press), examines the overlooked impacts that the natural sciences have had on stylistic trends in American animation. Colin received his PhD in cinema and media studies from the University of Chicago.


Peter J. Bloom is Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara, and served as Department chair from 2020-2023. He recently submitted a co-edited volume with Dominique Jullien, entitled Screens and Illusionism: Alternative Teleologies of Mediation (Edinburgh University Press, 2025). In addition to a geographical focus on West Africa and Southeast Asia related to a monograph in preparation under the title, Radio-Cinema Modernity, he has been engaged in a wide array of other projects. He has published extensively on British, French, and Belgian colonial media including French Colonial Documentary, Frenchness and the African Diaspora (co-editor), and Modernization as Spectacle in Africa (co-editor), among other publications.

Alenda Y. Chang is an Associate Professor in Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara. With a multidisciplinary background in biology, literature, and film, she specializes in merging ecocritical theory with the analysis of contemporary media. Her writing has been featured in Ant Spider Bee, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, Qui Parle, the Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds, and Ecozon@, and her first book Playing Nature: Ecology in Video Games (University of Minnesota Press, December 2019), develops ecological frameworks for understanding and designing digital games.

Paul Kim is a PhD student in the Film and Media Studies department at UC Santa Barbara. He works broadly at the intersection of critical AI studies, critical race studies, and visual studies. His current research considers recommender systems and racialization. He received his BA in Radio/Television/Film at Northwestern University and his MS in Data Science at the University of San Francisco, after which he worked as a data scientist at the FDA. He is currently a Graduate Student Researcher for AI Forensics, funded by the VolkswagenStiftung Artificial Intelligence and the Society of the Future grant.

Kelsey Moore is a PhD candidate in Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara. She received her master’s degree in Cinema and Media Studies from the University of Southern California, and she previously worked as an assistant digital media archivist for the Sherman Grinberg Film Library. Her research interests include documentary, photography, and newsreel studies; memory and intergenerational trauma; and archival theory and practice. Her dissertation considers the relationship between visual archives and digital practices of appraisal and preservation, and how these archival spheres contemporarily memorialize the Japanese American incarceration.

Lisa Parks is a Distinguished Professor of Film and Media Studies and Director of the Global Media Technologies and Cultures Lab at UCSB. She is the author of Rethinking Media Coverage: Vertical Mediation and the War on Terror (Routledge, 2018) and Cultures in Orbit: Satellites and the Televisual (Duke University Press, 2005). She is co-editor of Life in the Age of Drone Warfare (Duke University Press, 2017), Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructures (University of Illinois Press, 2015), Down to Earth: Satellite Technologies, Industries and Cultures (Rutgers University Press, 2012), and Planet TV: A Global Television Reader (NYU Press, 2002).

Conference organizers:

Stephan Boman is a Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley. His research works on issues at the intersection of film theory, environment, and scientific visual cultures. His book manuscript, Unstill Life: Evolution and the Inhuman Aesthetics of Time-Lapse Photography, examines how genres of time-lapse imagery have intersected with the visual, conceptual, and cultural projects of evolutionary theory. Stephan received his PhD in Film and Media Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Hannah Goodwin is assistant professor of Film and Media Studies at Mount Holyoke College. Her research revolves around the intersections between scientific and mediatized conceptions of time. Her book manuscript Stardust: Cinematic Archives at the End of the World explores the entanglements of astronomy and cinema as they channel the past and imagine archives for a future beyond human existence. She has recently published essays in several edited collections, including Uncanny Histories and Contemporary Visual Cultures of the Sublime.

Patrice Petro is Professor of Film and Media Studies, Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center, and Presidential Chair in Media Studies. She is the author, editor, and co-editor of fourteen books, including Uncanny Histories in Film and Media Studies (2022), The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Gender (with Kristin Hole, Dijana Jelaca, and E. Ann Kaplan, 2017), Teaching Film (2012), Idols of Modernity: Movie Stars of the 1920s (2010), Rethinking Global Security: Media, Popular Culture, and the “War on Terror” (2006), and Aftershocks of the New: Feminism and Film History (2002). She served two terms as President of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the largest U.S. professional organization for college and university educators, filmmakers, historians, critics, scholars, and others devoted to the study of the moving image.

Charles Wolfe is Professor Emeritus of Film and Media Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of two books on the films of director Frank Capra and has published widely on various aspects of the history of commercial, independent, and documentary filmmaking in the U.S. With Edward Branigan, he co-edited the American Film Institute’s Film Reader Series (1990-2022), including 41 volumes of new critical essays on topics of contemporary concern in film, television, and digital media studies. A member of the Board of Directors of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies from 2006 to 2009, Wolfe chaired the Department of Film and Media Studies from 1994 to 1998, and served as Associate Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts in the College of Letters and Science at UCSB from 2003 to 2008.

Past annual conferences:

Each year, the Carsey-Wolf Center hosts an invitational conference on a theme related to the study of film and media.