AGriffithsAlison Griffiths

Phone: 646 312-3730

Location: VC 8237

Alison Griffiths (PhD, NYU; MA, University of London) is a Professor of Film and Media Studies at Baruch College and in the doctoral program in Theatre at the CUNY Graduate Center.  An internationally recognized scholar of film, media and visual studies, Griffiths’s research crosses the fields of film studies, nineteenth century visual culture, and medieval visual studies and examines cinema’s relationship to and experience in, non-traditional spaces of media consumption. Griffiths is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Meyer Fellowship from the Huntington Library, and a Project Development grant from the American Council of Learned Societies.  Her research has also been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Eugene Lang Foundation, and PSC-CUNY.  Griffiths received a Felix Gross Award for outstanding research by a CUNY junior faculty member and has twice won Baruch College’s Presidential Distinguished Scholarship Award.  In 2015-2016, Griffiths served as Interim Dean of the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences at Baruch.

Griffiths is the author of three monographs and over 35 journal articles and book chapters.  Her ground-breaking first book, Wondrous Difference:  Cinema, Anthropology, and Turn-of-the-Century Visual Culture (Columbia University Press, 2003), won the Sixteenth Annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies Dissertation Award in 1999; the Katherine S. Kovacs Award for the best published book in film and media studies in 2003; and honorable mention for the Krazna Krausz Moving Image Book Award in 2004. Her second book, Shivers Down Your Spine:  Cinema, Museums, and the Immersive View (Columbia, 2008) sought to explode the myth that ideas of immersion endemic to so many contemporary viewing spaces, popular entertainment, and digital media platforms are in any way new.  Tracing the idea of a revered gaze to the medieval cathedral, virtual reality to the nineteenth century panorama, fantasies of total immersion to the planetarium space show, and contemporary debates around the utility of immersive and interactive exhibits to the nineteenth century science museum, Shivers Down Your Spine developed new theories of immersive spectatorship.  Her third book, Carceral Fantasies:  Cinema and Prisons in Early Twentieth Century American  (Columbia, 2016) examined how cinema gained a foothold in American penitentiaries as well as the range of early images of inmates that fed the carceral imagination. Her fourth book, Nomadic Cinema:  A Cultural Geography of the Expedition Film is under contract with Columbia UP and examines cinema as a tool of exploration in the interwar period. Griffiths interdisciplinary research has appeared in such journals as the Journal of Visual Culture, Cinema Journal, Screen, Film History, Wide Angle, Continuum, Visual Anthropology Review, Early Popular Visual Culture, Journal of Popular Film and Television, and in numerous anthologies on early cinema, media history, and media audiences.

Course taught at Baruch include: at the undergraduate level, Media Analysis and Criticism, American Television Programming; The Ethics of Image Making; Film History 1 and 2; and at the graduate level, Corporate Advertising and Image Identity and Corporate Representation in Film, TV, Advertising, and Social Media.  Courses taught at the CUNY Graduate Center include Film History 1; Documentary Film and Cultural Theory; and Spectacular Realities:  Immersion and Interactivity in Film and the Related Arts.


Carceral Fantasies: Cinema and Prison in Early Twentieth-Century America (New York:  Columbia University Press, 2016), 441 pages, 130 illustrations.  Information here

Shivers Down Your Spine: Cinema, Museums, and the Immersive View (New York:  Columbia University Press, 2008), 448 pages; 79 illustrations. Information  here

Wondrous Difference:  Cinema, Anthropology, and Turn-of-the-Century Visual Culture (New York:  Columbia University Press, 2002), 463 pages, 100 illustrations. Information here

Selected Journal Articles:

“‘For the Amusement of the Shutins’:  Distraction in Prison Film Exhibition,” Film History 28:3 (2016): 1-23.

“The Carceral Aesthetic:  Seeing Prison on Film During the Early Cinema Period,” Early Popular Visual Culture 12:2 (Spring 2014): 174-98.

Tableaux Morts:  Execution, Cinema, and Galvanistic Fantasies,” Republics of Letters:  A Journal for the Study of Knowledge, Politics, and the Arts 3:3 (April 2014): 1-31.

“A Portal to the Outside World:  Motion Pictures Arrive in the Penitentiary,” Film History 25:4 (Fall 2013): 1-35.

“Sensual Vision: 3-D, Medieval Art, and the Cinematic Imaginary,” Film Criticism XXXVII: 3 (Spring/Fall 2013): 60-85.

“The Untrammeled Camera:  A Topos of the Ethnographic Expedition Film,” Film History 25:1-2 (2013): 95-109.

“The 1920s Museum Sponsored Expedition Film:  Beguiling Encounters in All-But-Forgotten Genre,” Early Popular Visual Culture 9:3 (Dec. 2011): 271-92.

“Magic, Wonder and the Fantastical Margins:  Medieval Visual Culture and Cinematic Special Effects,” The Journal of Visual Culture 9:2 (Fall 2010): 163-88.

“The Revered Gaze:  The Medieval Imaginary of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ,” Cinema Journal 47:4 (Winter 2006-07):  3-39.

“’They Go to See a Show’:  Vicissitudes of Spectating and the Anxiety Over the Machine in the Nineteenth Century Science Museum,” Early Popular Visual Culture 6:3 (Fall 2006):  245-71. 

“‘Shivers Down Your Spine’:  Panoramas, Illusionism, and the Origins of the Cinematic Reenactment,” Screen 44:1 (Spring 2003): 1-37. 

Selected Book Chapters:

“Cinema on the Move:  Museum Sponsored Expedition Film in the Silent Era,” in Charlie Keil and Rob King, eds. The Oxford Companion to Silent Cinema (Oxford:  Blackwell, forthcoming).

“Through Central Borneo with Carl Lumholtz: The Visual and Textual Output of a Norwegian Explorer,” in Eirik Frisvold Hanssen and Maria Fosheim Lund, eds. Small Country, Long Journeys:  Norwegian Expedition Films (Oslo:  National Museum of Oslo Press, 2017), 136-77.

“Sensory Media: The World Without and the World Within,” in Constance Classen, ed., A Cultural History of the Senses in the Age of Empire. The Cultural Histories series (London:  Berg, 2014), 211-34.

Camping Among the Indians:  Visual Education and the Sponsored Expedition Film at the American Museum of Natural History,” in Joshua A. Bell, Alison K. Brown, and Robert J. Gordon, eds. Reinventing First Contact: Expeditions, Anthropology, and Popular Culture (Washington DC:  Smithsonian Institution Press, 2013), 90-108.

“Bound By Cinematic Chains:  Early Cinema and Prisons, 1900-1915,” in Andre Gaudreault, Nicolas Dulac, and Santiago Hidalgo, eds., A Companion to Early Cinema, (Oxford:  Blackwell, 2012), pp. 420-40.

“Playing at Being Indian:  Spectatorship and the Early Western,” in Gary R. Edgerton and Mike Marsden, eds. Westerns:  The Essential Journal of Popular Film and Television Collection (New York/London:  Routledge, 2012).  Reprinted from Journal of Popular Film and Television, Vol. 29, No. 3 (Fall. 2001):  100-111.

“Film Education in the Natural History Museum:  Cinema Lights Up the Gallery in the 1920s,” in Devin Orgeron, Marsha Orgeron, and Dan Streible, eds., Learning with the Lights Off (New York:  Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 124-44.

The City University of New York