Richard Mwakasege-Minaya (Ph.D. 2019)
Richard successfully defended his dissertation, "Exiled Counterpoints: Cuban Exile Media Activism and Conservative Latinidad" in May of 2019. His work explores the media activism of first-wave Cuban exiles and the strategies they deployed to shape U.S. media from the 1960s-1970s. The Truth About Cuba Committee (TACC) chiefly led this phenomenon and formed coalitions with Cuban organizations and U.S. conservative advocates and broadcasters. Cuban media activists sought to pit the media, the state, and public opinion in the U.S. against the Castro regime. For this project, Richard relied on archival materials from the Cuban Heritage Collection, namely the TACC collection and the Luis V. Manrara papers, as well as periodicals, advertisements, government documents, and press releases. To examine these materials, he drew from the media theory and models of transnationalism.
Niclas Heckner (Ph.D. 2018)
Niclas Heckner successfully defended his dissertation, " Embodied Historiographies: Affect and Realism in the 'Medal of Honor' and 'Call of Duty' Franchises after 'Saving Private Ryan'" in August of 2018.
Benjamin Strassfeld (Ph.D. 2017)
Ben successfully defended his dissertation, “Indecent Detroit: Regulating Race, Sex, and Adult Entertainment, 1950-1975,” in December of 2017. This project explores the history of censorship and anti-porn politics in Detroit, beginning with an examination of the city’s literary censorship campaign in the immediate postwar era and moving up through the efforts to curtail the rapid growth of adult entertainment in the early 1970s. Strassfeld argues that the city’s methods of censoring “indecent” media evolved over this time period as a result of regional demographic shifts, the urban crisis, and mounting racial tensions. The project also makes the case for Detroit’s centrality to the broader history of media censorship, with the anti-porn regulatory methods pioneered in Detroit influencing countless cities across the country. Beyond his dissertation, Strassfeld has also published articles dealing with the histories of film exhibition, educational cinema, and media censorship.
Feroz Hassan (Ph.D. 2016)
Assistant Professor (English), Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT-Kanpur.
Feroz Hassan defended his dissertation, "Surviving Politics: André Bazin and Aesthetic Bad Faith," in December 2016. Feroz's dissertation recovers the political character of Bazin's work by identifying the intellectual debates that were formative for his critical positions. It also revises the standard picture of Bazin as a realist film theorist by highlighting his ambivalence about cinematic realism as well as by foregrounding his close engagement with generic cinema, stardom, and the sociological dimensions of the medium.
Dimitrios Pavlounis (Ph.D. 2016)
Visiting Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies, Carleton College
Dimitri succesfully defended his dissertation, entitled, "Sound Evidence: An Archaeology of Audio Recording and Surveillance in Popular Film and Media," in 2016. In his work, he traces the historical appropriation of sound recording technologies for the purposes of surveillance from 1910-1975. He argues that popular media generally, and crime cinema and television in particular, must be understood as constituent parts of this history, playing a central role in transmitting knowledge and shaping public understandings of surveillance technologies that continue to resonate in the present.
Katy Peplin (Ph.D. 2016)
Founder, Thrive PhD
Katy successfully defended her dissertation, entitled, "Construction and Constraint: The Animal Body and Constructions of Power in Motion Pictures," in May of 2016. Her dissertation proceeds from the question, "How does the camera capture animals, and how does the medium of that image structure the relationship between camera, animal and spectator?" by arguing that both the terms of the question and the answer are culturally and historically contingent.
Michael Arnold (Ph.D. 2015)
Lecturer of Film and Digital Media, UC Santa Cruz
In 2015, Michael successfully defended his dissertation entitled, "Sex Every Afternoon: Pink Film and the Body of Pornographic Cinema in Japan," a theoretical and historiographical analysis of Pink Film production and exhibition in Japan from the 1980s to the present.
Nathan Koob (Ph.D. 2015)
Special Lecturer, Department of Cinema Studies, Oakland University
Nathan successfully defended his dissertation, entitled, "Out-siders: Auteurs in Space," in 2015. In his work, he examines authorship theory and the function of authorship in city spaces. Koob's primary areas of interest are examining relationships between American commercial, independent and avant-garde cinema production contexts. He has also performed extensive research on 3-D technology along with work considering authorship and cinematic technologies.
Erin Hanna (Ph.D. 2014)
Assistant Professor in Media Studies program, School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon
Erin’s work engages with critical questions of economic and cultural power as audience practices are incorporated into the industrial logic of media production, promotion, and publicity. She successfully defended her dissertation, “Making Fandom Work: Industry Space and Structures of Power at the San Diego Comic-Con,” in 2014. In her work, she examines how the organization and control of labor and space at Comic-Con produces and reinforces hierarchies that shape the relationship between media industries and fans.
Courtney Ritter (Ph.D. 2014)
Courtney successfully defended her dissertation, entitled, “Everyman’s Broadcasting: Programming the Democratic Transition in 1950s Italy,” in 2014. Her work focuses on the much-ignored early years of Italian television and places the new medium in the transnational context of the cold war, the country’s civic transition from fascist dictatorship to democratic republic, and Italy's film and journalistic culture.
Peter Alilunas (Ph.D. 2013)
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Cinema Studies, University of Oregon
Peter Alilunas is an Assistant Professor in the department of Cinema Studies at the University of Oregon, where he has been since 2014. His dissertation, “Smutty Little Movies: The Creation and Regulation of Adult Video, 1976-1986,” defended in 2013, received the 2014 SCMS Dissertation Award of Distinction. It was published as Smutty Little Movies: The Creation and Regulation of Adult Video by the University of California Press in 2016. His work traces the historical transitions and regulations of pornography.
Nancy McVittie (Ph.D. 2013)
Instructor, Department of Communication, Media and Theatre, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL
Nancy completed her dissertation, entitled, “Elder Kitsch: The Development of a Comedic and Cultural Trope in Postwar America” in 2013. The project considers representations of the aging on film and television during the postwar years and how a number of cultural, social, and industrial factors led to the development of the “funny old man/lady” trope popularized later on by stars like George Burns and Betty White.
Since 2012, Nancy has been a faculty member in the Department of Communication, Media and Theatre at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. She is currently at work on a book project considering representations of aging in Hollywood film and an article about the 1950s television series December Bride.
Kristy Rawson (Ph.D. 2012)
Learning Specialist in the Center for Students with Disabilities, DePaul University, Chicago
Kristy successfully defended her dissertation, entitled, "A Trans-American Dream: Lupe Velez and the Performance of Transculturation" in 2012.