[Department Members][Cinema Media Studies][Resource Faculty]

Tom Gunning

Professor, Department of Art History, Department of Cinema & Media Studies, and the College; Chair, Department of Cinema & Media Studies

Ph.D., New York University

Tom Gunning is the Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor.

Tom Gunning works on problems of film style and interpretation, film history and film culture. His published work (approximately one hundred publications) has concentrated on early cinema (from its origins to the WW I) as well as on the culture of modernity from which cinema arose (relating it to still photography, stage melodrama, magic lantern shows, as well as wider cultural concerns such as the tracking of criminals, the World Expositions, and Spiritualism). His concept of the "cinema of attractions" has tried to relate the development of cinema to other forces than storytelling, such as new experiences of space and time in modernity, and an emerging modern visual culture. His book D.W. Griffith and the Origins of American Narrative Film traces the ways film style interacted with new economic structures in the early American film industry and with new tasks of story telling. His forthcoming book on Fritz Lang deals with the systematic nature of the director's oeuvre and the processes of interpretation. He has written on the Avant-Garde film, both in its European pre-World War I manifestations and the American Avant-Garde film up to the present day. He also also written on genre in Hollywood cinema and on the relation between cinema and technology. The issues of film culture, the historical factors of exhibition and criticism and spectator's experience throughout film history are recurrent themes in his work.

Field Specialities:

International early and silent cinema; American avant-garde cinema; Hollywood film genres; film and narrative theory; classical film theory; film and still photography; Japanese cinema; early cinema and the experience of modernity; directors' styles (especially, Lang, Griffith, Von Strernberg, Hitchcock, Godard, Bresson, Borzage); Film historiography; Film exhibition and spectatorship; Modernist cinema of the twenties (Soviet, French, and German).

Selected Publications:

  • D. W. Griffith and the Origins of American Narrative Film: The Early Years at Biograph. University of Illinois Press, 1991
  • "From Kaleidoscope to the X-Ray: Urban Spectatorship, Poe, Benjamin and Traffic is Souls (1913)" in Wide Angle, Vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 25-63.
  • "Tracing the Individual Body AKA Photography, Detectives, Early Cinema and the Body of Modernity" in Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life ed. Vanessa R. Schwartz and Leo Charney (University of California Press, 1995)
  • "The Horror of Opacity: The Melodrama of Sensation in the Plays of André de Lorde" in Melodrama - Stage, Picture, Screen BFI ed. J.S. Bratton, Jim Cook and Christine Gledhill, 1994
  • "An Aesthetic of Astonishment: Early Film and the [In]Credulous Spectator" in Viewing Positions, ed. Linda Williams (New Brunswick: Rutgers, 1995)
  • "The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde"; in Early Film ed. Thomas Elsaesser and Adam Barker (British Film Institute, 1989)

  • Contact Information:

    Department of Art History
    The University of Chicago
    5540 South Greenwood Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60637
    Office: (773) 702-0264
    Fax: (773) 702-5901

    [Department Members][Cinema Media Studies][Resource Faculty]
    June 20, 2006