Criticism Now: Film Writing for a Culture

  • Wednesday, October 25, 2023 / 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM (PDT)
  • Carsey-Wolf Center
  • Wallis Annenberg Conference Room (SSMS 4315)

What is the status of film criticism today? At a time of acute industrial crisis and rapid technological change, what is the role of the critic, and what function does criticism serve? Building on conversations that took place during the Carsey-Wolf Center’s 2023 Theory Now conference, this special roundtable discussion examined possibilities for popular film writing today.

Putting professional critics in conversation with leading film scholars and industry analysts, Criticism Now considered the past, present, and future of popular film criticism in relation to its academic counterparts. The panel also examined how a range of contemporary forces shape the work of film criticism, from late realignments in digital publishing and fan practices to shifts in the economy of theatrical exhibition and the rapid rise, consolidation, and fall of streaming services.

This unique conversation featured Kim Masters (Editor-at-Large for the Hollywood Reporter and host of KCRW’s The Business), Karen Tongson (Gender & Sexuality Studies, English, and American Studies & Ethnicity, USC), Timothy Corrigan (Professor Emeritus, Cinema & Media Studies, English and the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania), and Katie Walsh (film critic, Tribune News Service and Los Angeles Times).

Criticism Now was presented in conjunction with Revisiting the Classics: Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, and was offered as part of the UCSB Department of Film & Media Studies Colloquium Series.


An image of journalist Kim Masters. The image is in black and white and Masters wears a black v-neck shirt and dark hair cut into a bob.

Kim Masters (Hollywood Reporter)

Kim Masters is Editor-at-Large of The Hollywood Reporter and host of KCRW’s The Business. A former correspondent for NPR, she has also served as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, TIME, and Esquire, and was a staff reporter for The Washington Post. She is the author of The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everybody Else, and co-author (with Nancy Griffin) of Hit & Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony for a Ride in Hollywood. Masters was named Print Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club in 2012. In 2018, the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists gave Masters its Distinguished Journalist Award.

An image of Professor Karen Tongson. She has short dark hair and wears a denim-style, button-up shirt, and is sitting in front of a wooden fence with

Karen Tongson (University of Southern California)

Karen Tongson is Professor of gender & sexuality studies, English and American studies & ethnicity, and chair of the Department of Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of Southern California. She is the 2019 recipient of the Lambda Literary Jeanne Córdova Award for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction, and the author of Why Karen Carpenter Matters (2019; Lambda Literary Award nominee in LGBTQ Nonfiction; Pitchfork’s Best Music Books of 2019; The Believer Book Award, longlist, 2020), Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries (2011), and the forthcoming Normporn: Television and the Spectacle of Normalcy (2023). She is also co-editor of the award-winning book series Postmillennial Pop with Henry Jenkins at NYU Press, editor-at-large at air/light, and on several editorial boards for scholarly journals. Her writing and cultural commentary have appeared in Slate, NPR, The Criterion Collection, The Los Angeles Review of Books, PBS NewsHour, The Los Angeles Times, KCRW’s Good Food, BuzzFeed Reader, The Washington Post, The AV Club, Entertainment Weekly and Süddeutsche Zeitung, among others.

An image of professor Timothy Corrigan. An older man with silver hair and glasses wears a grey suit jacket, sitting in front of a wall of books.

Timothy Corrigan (University of Pennsylvania)

Timothy Corrigan is Professor Emeritus of English and cinema studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His work in cinema studies has focused on contemporary international cinema and documentary film. Books include New German Film: The Displaced Image (Indiana University Press, 1983), The Films of Werner Herzog: Between Mirage and History (Routledge, 1968), Writing about Film (9th ed., Longman/Pearson, 2014), A Cinema without Walls: Movies and Culture after Vietnam (Routledge/Rutgers University Press, 1991), Film and Literature: An Introduction and Reader (2nd ed., Routledge, 2012), and The Essay Film: From Montaigne, After Marker (Oxford University Press, 2011).

An image of film critic Katie Walsh. She wears her hair long and smiles in front of a neutral black background. She is wearing a white, collared shirt.

Katie Walsh (Tribune News Agency)

Katie Walsh is a Los Angeles-based film critic, journalist, podcast host, moderator, and lecturer. She reviews weekly film releases for the Tribune News Service, and the Los Angeles Times, and is a member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. She is also the co-host of the One Heat Minute Productions podcast Miami Nice. Her writing has been published in GQ, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Vulture, The Playlist, and many other publications, and she contributes film reviews to KCRW’s Press Play with Madeleine Brand.

 This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center and co-presented with the UCSB Department of Film & Media Studies