Prof. Alison GriffithsAlison Griffiths

Phone: 646 312-3730

Location: VC 8237


Alison Griffiths is the author of the award-winning Wondrous Difference: Cinema, Anthropology, and Turn-of-the-Century Visual Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), which 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. Professor Griffiths has been the recipient of several fellowships and awards: Distinguished Scholarship at Baruch College (2003 and 2011); NEH Summer Stipend (2003); two Eugene Lang Junior Faculty Fellowship at Baruch College (1999 and 2002); the Felix Gross Award for outstanding research by a CUNY junior faculty member (2002); and a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship (1998).

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 web 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. The book’s cover won an award from the Bookbinders Guild in 2008. Her new book project, Screens Behind Bars: Cinema, Prisons, and the Making of Modern America (under contract with Columbia University Press) is a book about how cinema and prisons came into contact in the early twentieth century and how cinema served as a portal to the outside world in the prison.

Her 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. Her research includes visual and museum studies, documentary film and television, early cinema, new media, medieval visual studies, and television audiences. Professor Griffiths is a member of the doctoral faculty in Theater at the CUNY Graduate Center where she teaches on a regular basis.

Course taught at Baruch include: at the undergraduate level, COM 3060 Media Analysis and Criticism, COM 3067 American Television Programming; COM 3058 The Ethics of Image Making; FLM 3001 Film History 1; and at the graduate level, COM 9655 Corporate Advertising and Image Identity. 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.



Shivers Down Your Spine: Cinema, Museums, and the Immersive View (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008).

Wondrous Difference: Cinema, Anthropology, and Turn of the Century Visual Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002)

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

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

“’A Moving Picture of the Heavens’: Planetarium Space Shows as Useful Cinema,” in Charles Acland and Haidee Wasson, eds., Useful Cinema (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011), pp. 230-59.

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

“Magic, Wonder and the Fantastical Margins: Medieval Visual Culture and Cinematic Special Effects,” The Journal of Visual Culture, Vol. 9 No. 2 (Fall 2010): 163-88.

“The Epic Grotesque: The Passion of the Christ (2004),” in Robert Burgoyne, ed., The Epic Film in World Culture (New York: Routledge, AFI Film Reader, 2010), pp. 315-45.

“’Distembered Daubs’ and Encyclopaedic World Maps: The Ethnographic Significance of Nineteenth Century Panoramas and Mappaemundi” in Elizabeth Edwards and Chris Morton, eds., Photography, Anthropology and History: Expanding the Frame (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate 2009), pp. 27-54.

“A Moving Picture of the Heavens: Immersion in the Planetarium Space Show,” Illuminace: The Journal of Film Theory, History, and Aesthetics, Vol. 20, No. 3 (2008): 68-106.

“’Automatic Cinema’ and Illustrated Radio: Multimedia in the Museum,” in Charles R. Acland (ed.), Residual Media (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007), pp. 69-96.

Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ,” Cinema Journal Vol. 47, No. 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, Vol. 6, No. 3 (Fall 2006): 245-71.

“Time Traveling IMAX Style: Tales from the Giant Screen,” in Jeffrey Ruoff (ed.) Virtual Voyages: Cinema and Travel (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), pp. 238-58.

“‘The Largest Picture Ever Executed by Man’: Panoramas and the Emergence of Large-Screen and 360 Degree Internet Technologies” in John Fullerton (ed.), Screen Culture: History and Textuality (London: John Libbey Press, 2004), pp. 199-220.

“Gender and Stereotyping,” in Toby Miller, ed., Television Studies (London: British Film Institute, 2003), pp. 94-97.

“Media Technology and Museum Display: A Century of Accommodation and Conflict,” in David Thorburn and Henry Jenkins (eds.), Rethinking Media Change: The Aesthetics of Transition (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2003), pp. 375-89. Reprinted in Informal Learning, No. 66 (May-June 2004), p. 1, pp. 4-9.

“‘Shivers Down Your Spine’: Panoramas, Illusionism, and the Origins of the Cinematic Reenactment,” Screen, Vol. 44, No. 1 (Spring 2003): 1-37.

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

" 'We Partake as It Were of His Life': The Status of the Visual in Early Ethnographic Film," in John Fullerton, ed., Technologies of Moving Images (Sydney: John Libbey Press, 1999), pp. 91-110.

" 'To the World the World We Show': Early Travelogues as Filmed Ethnography," Film History, Vol. 11, No. 3 (September 1999): 282-307.

Major entries on "Audiences" and "Ethnography" in Roberta Pearson and Philip Simpson, eds., Critical Dictionary of Film and Television (London: Routledge, 2001), pp. 6; 23-28; 159-61; 400.

Co-authored with James Latham, "Film and Ethnic Identity in Harlem, 1896-1915," in Melvyn Stokes, ed., Hollywood and Its Spectators: The Reception of American Film, 1895-1995 (London: British Film Institute, 1999), pp. 45-60.

" 'Animated Geography': Moving Pictures, Anthropology, and Turn-of-the-Century Amusements," in John Fullerton, ed., Celebrating 1895: The Centenary of Cinema (Sydney: John Libbey Press, 1998), pp. 190-202.

" 'To Disappoint the Ravages of Time: Precinematic Ethnography at the American Museum of Natural History," in André Gaudreault, Claire Dupré la Tour, and Roberta Pearson, eds., Le cinéma au tournant du siècle/Cinema at the Turn of the Century (Lausanne: Editions Payot/Quebec: Nuit Blanche, 1998), pp. 108-21.

"Wales and Television," in Horace Newcomb, ed., The Encyclopedia of Television (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997), pp. 1778-82.

"Knowledge and Visuality in Turn of the Century Anthropology: The Early Ethnographic Cinema of Alfred Cort Haddon and Walter Baldwin Spencer," Visual Anthropology Review, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Fall/Winter 1996/97): 18-43.

" 'Journeys for Those Who Cannot Travel': Promenade Cinema and the Museum Life Group," Wide Angle, Vol. 18, No. 3 (July 1996): 53-84.

" 'A Moving Picture in Two Senses': Allegories of the Nation in 1950s Indian Melodrama," Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media and Culture, Vol. 9, No. 2 (1996): 174-84.

"Science and Spectacle: Discourses of Authenticity in Early Ethnographic Film," in Elizabeth Bird, ed., Dressing in Feathers: The Construction of the Indian in American Popular Culture (Boulder: Westview Press, 1995), pp. 79-95.

"Ethnography and the Politics of Audience Research," in Peter I. Crawford and Sigurjon Baldur Hafsteinsson, eds., Constructing the Viewer (Copenhagen: Intervention Press, 1996), pp. 47-65.

"National and Cultural Identity in a Welsh Language Soap Opera," in Robert Allen, ed., To Be Continued: Soap Operas Around the World (London: Routledge, 1995), pp. 81-97.

"Ethnography and Popular Memory: Postmodern Configurations of Welsh Identities," Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media and Culture, Vol. 7, No. 2 (1994): 307-26.

"Pobol y Cwm: National and Cultural Identity in a Welsh Language Soap Opera," in Phillip Drummond, Richard Paterson, and Janet Willis, eds., National Identity and Europe: The Television Revolution (London: British Film Institute, 1993), pp. 9-24.

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