The organizing principle of the Carsey-Wolf Center’s 2023 annual conference was to explore the critical and ongoing work of theory in our field. Film Studies emerged as a discipline in the late 1960s and 1970s in the wake of an explosive interest in theory. This interest prompted robust discussion and debate about politics and textual analysis; spectatorship and psychoanalysis; feminist film theory; and fundamental questions regarding gender, race, and sexuality. More than fifty years later, how do we understand theory in our current moment? The conference probed this question from several angles: the relationship between film theory and media theory, the geopolitics of film and theory, the effort to move beyond European and U.S. intellectual genealogies, and various modes of engagement with the history of film theory. These modes of engagement involve a wide spectrum of approaches, including theories of representation; viewing, distribution, exhibition, and reception practices; and questions of ideology, politics, and technology. If theory was foundational to our once emergent discipline, what role does theory play now?

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Pollock Theater

7:00 PM: Screening and discussion of In A Whisper (A media voz, 2019)
With filmmakers Heidi Hassan and Patricia Pérez Fernández
Moderated by Cristina Venegas, Film and Media Studies, UCSB
For tickets, visit this page.

Friday, February 24, 2023

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, UCSB

9:15 AM Panel 1: Moving Images
Mary Ann Doane, Film and Media, UC Berkeley: “Psychoanalysis and Affect”
Althea Wasow, Institute of the Arts and Sciences, UC Santa Cruz: “Moving Image Practice and Abolition”
Moderated by Patrice Petro, Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center, UCSB

10:30 AM break

10:45 AM Panel 2: On the Global

Nicholas Baer, Media, Arts & Society, Utrecht University, Netherlands: “The Ends of Perfection: On a Limit Concept in Global Film and Media Theory”
Bhaskar Sarkar, Film and Media Studies, UCSB: “Theory in Light of Media Piracy”
Moderated by Miguel Penabella, Film and Media Studies, UCSB

12:00 PM lunch

1:00 PM Panel 3: Rethinking the Classical
Doron Galili, Gothenburg University/Stockholm University: “Media, Formats, Materials and the In-Between of Classical Film Theory”
Naoki Yamamoto, Film and Media Studies, UCSB: “Matsuda Masao and The Deconstruction of Theory in Post-1968 Japan”
Moderated by Marcel Strobel, Comparative Literature, UCSB

2:15 PM break

2:30 PM Panel 4: New Directions
Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece, English and Film Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: “Notes on Sitting Still”
Jeff Scheible, Film Studies, Kings College London: “Ping Theory”
Moderated by Charles Wolfe, Film and Media Studies, UCSB

3:45 PM break

4:00 PM Panel 5: Modernity and Development
Yiman Wang, Film & Digital Media, UC Santa Cruz: “When Chinese Socialist Science Education Films Meet Environmental Media Studies”
Debashree Mukherjee, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University: “Plantation, Capital of the 19th Century: Rethinking Theories of Media and Modernity”
Moderated by Tinghao Zhou, Film and Media Studies, UCSB


Saturday, February 25, 2023

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

9:30 AM Panel 6: Experiments in Theory
Lisa Parks, Film and Media Studies, UCSB: “Backyard Theory: An Experiment”
Kyle Stevens, English, Appalachian State University: “Theory as Gizmo”
Moderated by Tyler Morgenstern, Carsey-Wolf Center, UCSB

10:45 AM break

11:00 AM Panel 7: Audiences and Archives
Karen Redrobe, Cinema and Media Studies, University of Pennsylvania: “Theory Now and the ‘Authenticating Audiences’ (Toni Cade Bambara)”
Maggie Hennefeld, Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities: “’Breaking Dishes’: Feminist Archives, Media Fragments, and Film Theory Now!”
Moderated by Hannah Garibaldi, Film and Media Studies, UCSB

12:15 PM lunch

1:15 PM Panel 8: Feminist Thinking
Constance Penley, Film and Media Studies, UCSB: “’Why Film Theory?’ On the Occasion of Viva’s 50th Birthday”
Patricia White, Film and Media Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Swarthmore College: “Women’s Time: Feminist Theory and Art Cinema”
Moderated by Kyna McClenaghan, Film and Media Studies, UCSB

2:30 PM break

2:45 PM  Panel 9: Self and Subject
Courtney R. Baker, English, UC Riverside: “Theorizing the Black Cinematic Subject”
Timothy Corrigan, English and Cinema Studies, University of Pennsylvania: “First-Person Theory”
Moderated by Kelsey Moore, Film and Media Studies, UCSB

4:00 PM break

4:15 PM Panel 10: Theory’s Futures
Kara Keeling, American Studies and Ethnicity, Cinema and Media Studies, University of Southern California: “‘Marvels of … Inventiveness’: Cinema / Aesthetics as Black Study”
Amy Villarejo, Film, Television and Digital Media, UCLA: “Queer Constellations, Queer Consequences”
Moderated by Patrice Petro, Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center, UCSB

5:30 PM Closing remarks
Patrice Petro, Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center, UCSB

Nicholas Baer is Assistant Professor of Media, Arts & Society in the Department of Media and Culture Studies at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. He is author of the forthcoming monograph Historical Turns: Weimar Cinema and the Crisis of Historicism, and co-editor of two volumes of film and media theory: The Promise of Cinema: German Film Theory, 1907–1933 (University of California Press, 2016) and Unwatchable (Rutgers University Press, 2019). Baer has published on film and digital media, aesthetics, critical theory, and intellectual history in journals such as Film Quarterly and Krisis: Journal for Contemporary Philosophy.

Courtney R. Baker is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at UC Riverside. Her research focuses on Black literary and visual cultures, aesthetics, and politics. She is the author of Humane Insight: Looking at Images of African American Suffering and Death (University of Illinois Press, 2015) and co-editor of a forthcoming special issue of Film Criticism, entitled “Black Film Feminisms.”

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).

Mary Ann Doane is Class of 1937 Professor of Film and Media at The University of California-Berkeley. She is the author of The Emergence of Cinematic Time: Modernity, Contingency, the Archive (Harvard University Press, 2002), Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 1991), The Desire to Desire: The Woman’s Film of the 1940s (Indiana University Press, 1987) and editor of a 2007 special issue of differences, “Indexicality: Trace and Sign.” Her latest book, Bigger Than Life: The Close-Up and Scale in the Cinema was published by Duke University Press in fall 2021.

Doron Galili is a Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Gothenburg and a research fellow in the Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University. His main areas of research are silent cinema, classical film theory, television history, and media archaeology. He is the author of Seeing by Electricity: The Emergence of Television, 1878-1939 (Duke University Press, 2020) and co-editor of Corporeality in Early Cinema: Viscera, Skin, and Physical Form (Indiana University Press, 2018) and most recently of a special issue on media archaeology for Early Popular Visual Culture.

Maggie Hennefeld is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature and McKnight Presidential Fellow at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is author of Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes (Columbia University Press, 2018), co-editor of the journal Cultural Critique (University of Minnesota Press), co-editor of two volumes, Unwatchable (Rutgers University Press, 2019) and Abjection Incorporated: Mediating the Politics of Pleasure and Violence (Duke University Press, 2020), and co-curator a 4-disc DVD/Blu-ray set, Cinema’s First Nasty Women (Kino Lorber, 2022).

Kara Keeling is Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies in the School of Cinematic Arts and of American Studies and Ethnicity in Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences at the University of Southern California. Keeling’s research has focused on Black and queer cinema and media, with particular attention to issues of racial capitalism, sexuality, and gender; sound studies; critical theory, and cultural studies. Keeling’s most recent monograph, Queer Times, Black Futures, was published in 2019 by New York University Press.

Debashree Mukherjee is Associate Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. She is author of Bombay Hustle: Making Movies in a Colonial City (Columbia University Press, 2020), and is currently developing a media history of indentured labor and plantation capitalism in the Indian Ocean. Debashree edits the peer-reviewed journal BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies and has published in journals such as Film History, Representations, and Feminist Media Histories.

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).

Constance Penley is Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. From her first book, Feminism and Film Theory (Routledge, 1988), to the most recent, The Feminist Porn Book (Feminist Press at CUNY, 2013), Penley explores the whys and wherefores of theorizing film and media.

Karen Redrobe is Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her most recent publication, co-edited with Jeff Scheible, is Deep Mediations: Thinking Space in Cinema and Media Studies (University of Minnesota Press, 2021), and she is currently completing a book for UC Press’s Feminist Media Series entitled Undead: Animation and Contemporary (?) Art of War.

Bhaskar Sarkar is the author of Mourning the Nation: Indian Cinema in the Wake of Partition (Duke University Press, 2009), a critical exploration of the cinematic traces of a particular historical trauma. He has coedited the collections Documentary Testimonies: Global Archives of Suffering (Routledge, 2009), Asian Video Cultures: In the Penumbra of the Global (Duke University Press, 2017), and The Routledge Handbook of Media and Risk (Routledge, 2020). He has also coedited two journal special issues: Postcolonial Studies, on “The Subaltern and the Popular”; and BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, on “Indian Documentary Studies.”

Jeff Scheible is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College London. He is the co-editor of Deep Mediations: Thinking Space in Cinema and Digital Cultures (Minnesota University Press, 2021)which received SCMS’s Best Edited Collection award, and the author of Digital Shift: The Cultural Logic of Punctuation (Minnesota University Press, 2015), which received the Media Ecology Association’s Susanne K. Langer award. His most recent writings on contemporary media and documentary appear in Feminist Media HistoriesWorld RecordsMedia Fields Journal, and Communication, Culture & Critique.

Kyle Stevens is Associate Professor of Film Studies at Appalachian State University and Lecturer at MIT. He is the author of Mike Nichols: Sex, Language, and the Reinvention of Psychological Realism (Oxford University Press, 2015), co-editor of the two-volume collection Close-Up: Great Screen Performances (Edinburgh University Press, 2018), and editor of The Oxford Handbook of Film Theory (Oxford University Press, 2022), and his work has appeared in journals such as Critical InquiryCultural Critique, Journal of Cinema and Media StudiesScreen, Critical QuarterlyNew Review of Film and Television StudiesWorld Picture, as well as several edited collections.

Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece is Associate Professor of English and Film Studies and Director of the Film Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is a cultural historian of American exhibition, technology, and spectatorship and author of The Optical Vacuum: Spectatorship and Modernized American Theater Architecture (Oxford University Press, 2018), co-editor of Ends of Cinema (University of Minnesota Press, 2020), and author of the forthcoming Movies Under the Influence: Substances and Cinema.

Amy Villarejo has published widely in cinema and media studies, including Lesbian Rule: Cultural Criticism and the Value of Desire (Duke University Press, 2003), which won the Katherine Kovacs award for best book from the Society of Cinema and Media Studies. She is author of Ethereal Queer: Television, Historicity, Desire (Duke University Press, 2013) and Film Studies: The Basics (Routledge, 2013). She is co-editing, with Ron Gregg, The Oxford Handbook of Queer Cinema (Oxford University Press, 2021). Her essays have appeared in a range of peer-reviewed journals including New German Critique, Social Text, GLQ, and Film Quarterly.

Yiman Wang is Professor of Film & Digital Media and Kenneth R. Corday Family Presidential Chair in Writing for Television & Film (2022-2025) at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is author of Remaking Chinese Cinema: Through the Prism of Shanghai, Hong Kong and Hollywood (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2013). Her monograph on Anna May Wong, the pioneering Chinese American screen-stage-television performer, is under contract. She is co-editor of the Global East Asian Screen Cultures book series published by Bloomsbury, and has published articles on topics of Chinese cinema, independent documentary, ethnic border-crossing stardom, and ecocinema.

Althea Wasow is a filmmaker and President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of the Arts and Sciences at UCSC. Her research focuses on critical race and archaeology of media approaches to modern image making and cultural studies. Her current book project, “Moving Images/Modern Policing: Silent Cinema and Its Afterlives,” analyzes the complicity and resistance between police power and motion pictures in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Patricia White is Centennial Professor of Film and Media Studies and Coordinator of Gender and Sexuality Studies at Swarthmore College. Her books include Rebecca (Bloomsbury, 2021); Women’s Cinema/World Cinema: Projecting Contemporary Feminisms (Duke University Press, 2015), and Uninvited: Classical Hollywood Cinema and Lesbian Representability (Indiana University Press, 1999). She is coauthor with Timothy Corrigan of The Film Experience (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004) and co-editor of Critical Visions in Film Theory (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010). She serves on the boards of Women Make Movies and Film Quarterly and is a member of the editorial collective of the feminist film journal Camera Obscura.

Naoki Yamamoto specializes in film theory, Japanese cinema, Marxist criticism, documentary films, avant-garde art, post-colonial studies, and Japanese cultural history. His new book Dialectics without Synthesis: Japanese Film Theory and Realism in A Global Frame (University of California Press, 2020) explores Japan’s active but previously unrecognized participation in the global circulation of film theory during the first half of the twentieth century. He has published widely in both English and Japanese, covering topics such as the reception of early American cinema in 1910s Japan, and Japanese New Wave filmmakers of the 1960s.


Hannah Garibaldi is a PhD candidate in the Film and Media Studies Department at UC Santa Barbara. Her research interests include the intersection of Hollywood censorship and color filmmaking in the 1930s-1950s, as well as the influence of illness and disability on historical Hollywood film productions. She is also professionally involved in audiovisual archiving, having worked at the Academy Film Archive, the Paley Center for Media, the UCSB Film and Media Studies Archive, and the UCSB Library’s Special Research Collections.

Kyna McClenaghan is a third-year PhD student in Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara. She received her masters in Film and Media Studies from Columbia University, previously worked for New York Women in Film & Television, and was a steering committee member of the Women’s Film Preservation Fund. Her research interests include media theory, feminist studies, history of science and technology, film philosophy, cultural studies, and the occult. Her dissertation is centered on occult media histories of lesser-known objects and the esoteric origins of technology in California.

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 useful cinema 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.

Tyler Morgenstern is Assistant Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center and holds a PhD in Film and Media Studies from UC Santa Barbara. With Krista Lynes and Ian Alan Paul, he is co-editor of Moving Images: Mediating Migration as Crisis (Transcript Verlag, 2020), and his scholarly work has appeared in journals including Media+Environment, Synoptique, and International Journal of Communication. 

Miguel Penabella is a PhD candidate in Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research examines conspiracy, spectrality, and melancholia as theoretical frameworks for examining historical revisionism and questions of national cinema in the Philippines. He is also interested in theorizations of cinematic temporality and slowness. He is a graduate student researcher for the Carsey-Wolf Center and is a member of the Media Fields editorial collective, where he serves as coordinating editor.

Marcel Strobel is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the program of Comparative Literature. He specializes in 19th and 20th-century German media and cultural history. His research focuses on 20th-century literary cultures, queer theory, urban studies, film history, as well as critical pedagogy. Marcel is currently writing his dissertation interweaving archival work, history, queer theory, and cultural studies to investigate the relationship between sex work and queer German identities during the Weimar Republic.

Charles Wolfe is Professor 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-edits the American Film Institute’s Film Reader Series, which to date has published 30 volumes of new critical essays on topics of contemporary concern in film, television, and new 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.

Tinghao Zhou is a third-year Ph.D. student in Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). His current research interests include environmental media studies, critical infrastructure studies, ocean humanities, modern visual culture, and digital culture in East Asia and beyond. His dissertation project will look at the multi-scalar interactions and entangled relationships between critical media infrastructures and local environments at multiple so-called “peripheral” sites in China.