Paula Amad, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Paula Amad is an Associate Professor of Film Studies and Chair of the Department of Cinematic Arts (Jan 2016-July 2018; August 2019-December 2020).  She teaches and researches at the intersection of film history and film theory, with specialization in French cinema, nonfiction film, archive and memory studies, feminist film history, postcolonial theory and visual studies, and the relationship between photography and film.

She is the author of Counter-Archive: Film, the Everyday and Albert Kahn's Archives de la Planète (Columbia University Press, 2010), which was deemed a highly recommended book by the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation Book Awards (2011), and numerous articles in journals such as Modernism/Modernity, Representations, Camera Obscura, History of Photography, Cinema Journal, Film History, and Framework. She is currently completing a second book focused on the airplane and camera as the twin vision and dream machines of early twentieth-century modernity.

Amad is a recipient of the Getty Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship (2006-7), a Shpilman Institute of Photography Research Award (2011), a Visiting Scholar Fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (Fall 2011), and the Katherine Singer Kovács Outstanding Essay Award from the Society of Cinema and Media Studies (2014).  Her work has been translated into French, Italian, German, and Chinese and she has also taught at Melbourne University (Australia), Indiana University, and University of Paris III (France). 

Courses Taught 

Recent graduate courses include: Digital Dust: Archives and New Media, From Document to Documentary, Cinema and the Everyday, Colonial/Postcolonial Theory & French Cinema; and undergraduate courses on Moviegoing Histories, Photography and Film, European Silent Cinema, Recording War, and Consumer Culture and Cinema.

Selected Publications
  • ‘The World’s Heavy Gaze’: Recovering Cin-aereality in the Post-War Avant-Gardes,” Modernism/Modernity 27.2 (April 2020): 207-242.
  • “Film as ‘the skin of History’: André Bazin and the Specter of the Archive and Death in Nicole Védrès’s Paris 1900 (1947),” Representations 130 (Spring 2015): 84-118.
  • “Visual Riposte: Reconsidering the Return of the Gaze as Postcolonial Theory’s Gift to Film Studies” (Cinema Journal, 52.3 (Spring 2013): 25-48.  This essay was awarded the 2014 Katherine Singer Kovács Outstanding Essay Award by the Society of Cinema and Media Studies
  • Interview about "Visual Riposte" article on Aca-Media (the podcast of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and Cinema Journal)
  • Follow-up essay to my Cinema Journal "Visual Ripose" article: "If Looks Could Kill: Postscripts and Afterthoughts to 'Visual Riposte," Flow. Vol. 17.12 (2013).  
  • “From God’s-eye to Camera-Eye: Aerial Photography and Modernity’s Post-humanist and Neo-humanist Visions of the World.” History of Photography, 36.1 (February 2012): 66-86.
  • Counter-Archive: Film, the Everyday, and Albert Kahn’s Archives de la Planète (Columbia University Press, 2010).
  • “Between the ‘familiar text’ and the ‘book of the world’: Touring The Ambivalent Contexts of Travel Films,” in Virtual Voyages: Cinema and Travel, ed. Jeffrey Ruoff (Duke University Press, 2006) 99-116.
  • “‘These spectacles are never forgotten’: Memory and Reception in Colette’s film criticism.” Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture and Media Studies 59 (2005): 119-164.
  • "'Objects became witnesses': Ève Francis as witness to the emergence of French cinephilia and film criticism.” Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media 46.1 (Spring 2005): 56-73
Research areas
  • French Cinema
  • Nonfiction Film
  • Archive and Memory Studies
  • Postcolonial Theory in the Visual Domain
  • The Relationship Between Photography and Film
Paula Amad
Ph.D., University of Chicago
Contact Information

W223 Adler Journalism Building (AJB)
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States