AboutPosted: January 18, 2012 Filed under: Home Comments Off on About
I am currently Assistant Professor of Film Studies and Media and Communication in the Department of Media, Journalism & Film at Miami University in Ohio, where I conduct research on the feeling of camerawork and performance in community settings and make documentary films with collaborators about institutional histories, identity, and social change. I hold a BA in film/video production and cinema studies from the Visual and Environmental Studies Department at Harvard, a master’s degree in US history from UCSD, and a PhD in Communication at UCSD for my dissertation “Indexical Embodiments: Sensory Ethnography and/as Historical Reenactment.”
My book Political Camerawork: Documentary and the Lasting Impact of Reenacting Historical Trauma (2023, Indiana University Press) theorizes the ways that intense feelings produced while creating performed scenarios, called “simulation documentaries,” connect difficult pasts to the present. Building on my background as a nonfiction film director, producer, editor, and cinematographer, I analyze performance techniques to gain insight into the emotional toll of simulation documentaries, including those reliving the Vietnam War, the US military’s embodied training in California during the Iraq War, and an annual quadruple lynching reenactment organized by Black civil rights activists in Georgia. The book shows how performing a simulation of a traumatic event that participants didn’t directly experience can lead those involved to become carriers of the trauma.
More generally, my work touches on key concerns in the fields of Documentary Studies, Performance Studies, Media Phenomenology, Visual Communication, American Studies, and considerations of race across these areas. My article publications in Journal of Film and Video, JumpCut, Senses of Cinema, The Scholar and Feminist Online, and Catalyst as well as several edited book volumes offer takes on media production pedagogy in higher education, feminist performative documentary, viewfinderless camerawork, disability life writing in nonfiction film, and camerawork as a method in media phenomenology. I have also directed three feature-length documentary films, including Bittersweet: Black College Life at a Predominantly White Institution (2023) as part of one of the most comprehensive archival and oral history projects in the country on Black life at a PWI with a team at Miami University, and am the Co-Producer, Cinematographer, Editor, and Co-Grant Writer on Spirits of Rebellion (2017, 101 min., Cinema Guild) a feature documentary directed by Zeinabu irene Davis about a the legacy of a collective of radical black independent filmmakers known as the L.A. Rebellion. Spirits won the 2016 African Movie Academy Award for Best Diaspora Documentary, recognized in a ceremony held in Port Harcourt, Nigeria that was broadcast to over 100 million homes across 17 countries in Africa, and the University Film Video Association’s Best Documentary Feature award in 2017. From 2014-2017, I was the ASPIRE Fellow in Socially Engaged Media at UCLA, responsible for developing and teaching documentary production for social change courses for undergraduates of diverse liberal arts majors. While there, I Co-Directed/Produced a project with choreographer Victoria Marks titled Unhooked (24 min.), a hybrid dance-documentary intervention into hookup culture and sexual violence in college Greek life at UCLA. At Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, I have won internal grants to lead on a collaborative, site specific, augmented reality documentary project about the history of race and student protest on campus in the 1960s and 1970s, titled “The Curious Ways in Which Activism Shapes Peoples’ Lives,” intended for use in teaching on campus as well as education for the general public, and a short film titled Reading Freedom Summer (2020), a reflection on youth, risk, and activism through intergenerational reading and reflection on letters written in 1964 by Freedom Summer volunteers. My documentary production students and I also created a 42 minute film titled Generation COVID: Coming of Age While Six Feet Apart in the spring of 2020 amid the closing of university campuses across the country. I currently head the Teaching Committee for a nationwide movement of academic filmmakers titled Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Teaching Media (EDIT Media). You can see excerpts from several of my projects on the “Media Production” page of this site.