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Cinema and Media Arts

Jennifer Fay



Associate Professor of
Cinema & Media Studies and English

Director, Program in Cinema & Media Studies

Contact Information


Ph.D., Film Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, 2001

Recent Graduate Courses Taught

Maladies of Attention: The Distracted Subject of Cinema

American Tragedy (in Theory)



My teaching and research interests are broadly concerned with the intersection of political culture and cinema. My first book,  Theaters of Occupation: Hollywood and the Reeducation of Postwar Germany  offers a political theory of film in U.S. Occupied Germany following World War II. Here a provisional American government literally projected democratic fantasies in the form of Hollywood films onto the defeated nation for the sake of its citizens' democratic rehabilitation.  I read the German and American film culture in the occupied territory through the theatrical touchstone of occupation mimicry and the performative force of American liberalism.

My second co-authored book with Justus Nieland is  Film Noir: Hard-Boiled Modernity and the Cultures of Globalization . We argue that noir is not a uniquely American form, and that it may be one of the most internationally recognized and produced genres because it so compellingly and darkly dramatizes (without resolving) the tension between local longings and global forces such as war, displacement, global capitalism, Americanization, decolonization, and military occupation. In addition to these texts, I have authored essays on film and cultural politics appearing in such journals as Film HistoryCultural CritiqueJournal of Visual Culture, Cinema Journal. I co-edited a special issue of CR: The New Centennial Review on "The Cultures of Occupation" which advanced a research agenda of comparative occupation studies.  I also serve as co-editor of the Contemporary Film Directors series for University of Illinois Press.

I have recently begun a new research project provisionally titled Cinema and the Inhospitable World. Thinking past sentimental or nostalgic arguments for preservation (whereby we save what we love), I am interested in how we mobilize concern for unlovable, unknowable, and inhospitable environments as depicted in slapstick comedies, exploration films, and contemporary cinema of ecological displacement. If the promise of universal hospitality among humans presumes a life-sustaining environment, what are the implications of ecological inhospitality? What role might cinema and film theory play in challenging our presumed right to occupy and populate the world? Essays related to this project are "Antarctica and Siegfried Kracauer's Cold Love" in Discourse and "Buster Keaton's Climate Change" forthcoming in Modernism/Modernity.

Books Film Noir book cover Theaters of Occupation book cover

Edited Special Issue

  • CR: New Centennial Review special issue on “The Cultures of Occupation.” Co-edited with Salah Hassan 8: 1 (2008).

Selected Articles

  • "Buster Keaton's Climate Change," Modernism/Modernity21:1 (January, 2014):25-49.
  • Werner Herzog and Preposterous War," CR: New Centennial Review  Volume 13, Number 1 (Spring 2013) Special issue on "War and Peace":241-264.
  • "Antarctica and Siegfried Kracauer's Cold Love" Discourse 33:3 (Fall, 2011—published Fall 2012): 291-321.
  • “Rubble Noir,” in William Rasch and Wilfried Wilms eds. German Postwar Films: Life and Love in the Ruins (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008): 125-140. PDF
  • "Seeing/Loving Animals: Andre Bazin's Posthumanism," The Journal of Visual Culture 7: 1 (2008): 41-64. PDF

    Translated: "Tiere sehen/lieben: André Bazins Posthumanisum." trans.
    Wilhelm Werthern. Der Film und das Tier: Klassifiziergunen, Cinephilien,
    Philosophien. Sabine Nessel, Winfried Pauleit, Christine Rüffert, Karl-Heinz
    Schmid eds. (Bertz +Fischer: Berlin, 2012): 132-155.
  • “Dead Subjectivity: White Zombie, Black Baghdad,” CR: New Centennial Review 8:1 (2008): 71-91.
  • “Germany is a Boy in Trouble,” Cultural Critique 64 (Fall 2006): 196-234.
  • "Becoming Democratic: Satire, Satiety, and the Founding of West Germany,” Film History 18: 1 (Winter 2006): 6-20.
  • "'That's Jazz Made in Germany!': Hallo Fräulein and The Limits of Democratic Pedagogy,"Cinema Journal 44:1 (Fall 2004): 3-24.
  • "The Schoolgirl Reports and the Guilty Pleasure of History" in E. Mathijs and X. Mendikeds.Alternative Europe: Eurotrash and Exploitation Cinema Since 1945 (London: Wallflower Press, 2004): 39-52. PDF