Haskell Wexler
Haskell Wexler

In Memoriam: Haskell Wexler

(February 6, 1922 - December 27, 2015)

The Department of Film and Media Studies remembers and mourns Haskell Wexler, the Academy Award-winning Director/Cinematographer known for his brilliant, tireless, and affecting work for social justice.

In November 2013, Haskell Wexler screened his landmark film MEDIUM COOL at the Pollock Theater and participated in a lively Q&A organized by Greg Burris (PhD 2015) and Director Andrew Davis. Haskell Wexler also contributed to the intellectual and creative life of our department and campus by teaching a UCSB course during Summer Sessions 2002. The course he created for that occasion was on the subject of comparative media: features, documentary, advertising. In his characteristic no-nonsense way, he titled it “Truth and Images." In memory of a great person, artist, activist, and friend.

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Allison Anders

Professor Allison Anders featured in the NEW YORK TIMES article "Women of Hollywood Speak Out".

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Cinema Journal Congratulations, Dr. Burris, on the recent publication of your article, “Prometheus in Chicago: Film Portrayals of the Chaining and Gagging of Bobby Seale and the “Real-ization” of Resistance,” in Cinema Journal, the flagship journal of the Society and Cinema and Media Studies...an extremely prestigious venue!
Dr. Burris received his PhD from our department in Spring 2015 and is now Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Media Studies at the American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon. We wish him all the best!

Abstract At the 1969 Chicago Conspiracy Trial, Black Panther Party cofounder Bobby Seale was ordered chained and gagged after asserting the right to represent himself. This article examines film portrayals of this event to trace a lineage of resistance—its conception, its universalization, and its perpetuation across time. By melding together political and psychoanalytic approaches to cinema, I argue that film can serve to imbue Seale’s struggle with lasting relevance, bringing attention to the holes perforating power’s foundations and connecting the oppressions of the past with the oppressions of the present.


Graham Thiel, former UCSB Screenwriting student, wins the Disney Writing Fellowship for 2015

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Charles Champlin

Professor Cristina Venegas quoted in the NEW YORK TIMES.

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Recent Documentaries worked on by current UCSB Film & Media Studies Students

Slum Dreams

"Slum Dreams"
Alexandra Muckle

Spencer Byam-Taylor

The Céline Cousteau Film Fellowship announces partnership with The University of California, Santa Barbara for the summer of 2016.

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Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center and Presidential Chair in Media Studies

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In Process

The Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara is seeking a departmental colleague at the Associate Professor or Full Professor rank who will serve as the first Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center and Presidential Chair in Media Studies. The position is for an established scholar with a proven record of academic leadership. The Faculty Director will have many opportunities to cultivate the vision and strategic planning of the Carsey-Wolf Center (CWC). Pending final approval of the Presidential Chair, the appointment is slated to begin on July 1, 2016.

The faculty of the Department of Film and Media Studies engages in research and teaching encompassing multiple scholarly approaches and a dynamic understanding of film and media study. We are a robust department with over 400 undergraduate majors and 30 doctoral students. With this appointment we seek to extend the department’s scholarly and curricular strengths and advance our department’s commitment to the CWC in bringing interdisciplinary media research, teaching, and programming to a broader public. The Carsey-Wolf Center is an internationally recognized media research center. Featuring two foundational initiatives, the Media Industries Project and Environmental Media Initiative, the Center is a seedbed for new areas of research and projects that build bridges among media artists and practitioners, private and public institutions, and scholarly and archival communities. The CWC also houses the Pollock Theater, where the curatorial vision of the Center is realized through faculty-curated events that contribute to public conversations about global media environments and cultures. Both graduate and undergraduate students are engaged in many CWC activities that contribute to their educational and professional goals. The future Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center will play a crucial role in furthering the center’s mission and interests in the following ways: • Planning, implementation, and assessment of Center programs and projects • Overseeing the Center’s budget and staff • Heading the Center’s Faculty Steering Committee • Cultivating interdisciplinary partnerships with faculty across campus • Developing public programs at the Pollock Theater • Interacting with the Center’s Advisory Board of eminent industry professionals • Raising external funds and cultivating donors in conjunction with Film and Media Studies faculty and the University’s Development Office The department is especially interested in candidates who can contribute to the diversity and excellence of the academic community through research, teaching and service. ELIGIBILITY: Eligible applicants should hold the rank and experience equivalent to the Associate or Full Professor title. PhD required. TO APPLY: Applications are accepted via the UCSB Academic Recruit online system https://recruit.ap.ucsb.edu/apply/JPF00567, and must include 1) a letter of application outlining current and future research plans and leadership experience; 2) curriculum vitae; 3) one writing sample; 4) names of three references. Applications must be completed on or before December 16, 2015. For any questions, please contact Kathy Murray at kmurray@filmandmedia.ucsb.edu. The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Our departmental faculty and graduate students will be well represented at the annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in March!

Signal Traffic - Lisa ParksProfessor Lisa Parks's co-edited book has won the 2016 SCMS Best Edited Collection Award (Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the flagship organization for our field). The award is for Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructures (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015), co-edited with Nicole Starosielski (PhD, UCSB).The Undersea Network - Nicole Starosielski

NYU Assistant Professor of Media Culture, and Communication Nicole Starosielski (PhD, UCSB) herself has won the 2016 SCMS Best First Book award for The Undersea Network (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015).

Departmental doctoral student Juan Llamas-Rodriguez has won second place in the SCMS Student Writing Award competition for his essay entitled "A Global Cinematic Experience in the Age of Luxury Branding," while doctoral student Daniel Grinberg has won third place for his essay, "Some Restrictions Apply: The Exhibition Spaces of Guantanamo Bay."

Departmental doctoral student Rachel Fabian has won the scmsSCMS Women's Caucus Graduate Student Writing Prize for her essay, "Reconsidering the Work of Claire Johnston," has been selected as the winner in the inaugural.

Warmest congratulations to Dr. Cynthia Felando on the publication of her book, Discovering Short Films!!!!

Discovering Short Films is the first serious, comprehensive, and Discovering Short Film by Cynthia Felandohistorically-grounded study of the live-action fiction short film as a mode of storytelling with its own formal and aesthetic conventions. Although short films have been produced from the silent era through the present and are extremely numerous-and ever more so in the age of the Internet-the live-action fiction short has been treated to date as a transitional form, superseded in the mid-1910s with the inception of the feature-length film. Dr. Felando’s book revises this limited historiography, establishes the distinctiveness of the mode, and presents a canon of international short films that are analyzed in the body of the book and set out in the filmography that constitutes the Appendix.
The research for this field-changing book entailed years of travel to festivals around the world, communication with distributors, archival research, in-depth analysis, and, importantly, in-class programming and teaching.
Discovering Short Films is defining a new area of study, and we are all very fortunate that Dr. Felando is currently teaching the seminar FLMST 187SH: Short Films!!!

The Department is pleased to welcome and introduce two new Assistant Professors whose brilliant research, creative activities, and exciting new courses (see below!) will add greatly to our collective endeavor.

Welcome Dr. Alenda Chang and Dr. Laila Shereen Sakr! Long may you flourish in Film and Media Studies here at UCSB!

Alenda Chang Alenda Y. Chang received her PhD in Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley, following an MA in English from the University of Maryland and a BA from Cornell University where she studied biology, English, and film. Her scholarly interests reflect this multidisciplinary training and she researches and teaches in areas including but not limited to new media, ecomedia, science and technology studies, and video games.

Professor Chang’s dissertation, Playing Nature: The Virtual Ecology of Game Environments, moves beyond representational analysis of video game aethetics (e.g. scenery and other in-game pictorial components) and beyond ideological analysis of video games’ infamous proclivities (e.g. video game violence), to an expansive understanding of game environmentsas virtual worlds, certainly, but also as mediascapes nested with the broader ecologies of the built and natural environments. Concerned with the relationship between mediated “playing” and mediated “nature,” Chang examines how digital games and interactive play are “implicated in and by natural systems,” including technology’s natural resource demands, computational protocols, modeling dynamics, feedback, scale, and extra-game landscapes and systems, and social ecologies.

Her current projects include Playing Nature, an ecological approach to computer and video games, as well as new and ongoing research in documentary, sound and media studies, and environmental literature. She also maintains the Growing Games blog, http://growinggames.net, which is a resource for game studies, environmental humanities, and ecomedia scholars.

An award-winning teacher, Professor Chang’s courses slated for the coming year are FAMST 166BA: Growing Games and, at the graduate level, FAMST 242ES: Ecologies of Scale.

Her published essays appear in Ant, Spider, Bee; The Information Society; Qui Parle; and Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment.

Alenda Chang Laila Shereen Sakr holds a PhD in Media Arts + Practice from the University of Southern California, an MFA in Digital Arts and New Media from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an MA in Arab Studies from Georgetown University. She is a digital media theorist and artist working in computational art, live cinema, data visualization, and media activism. Her scholarship uses media analytics, data visualization, and immersive storytelling techniques to map how participation in virtual worlds and networked publics influence the formation of a virtual body politic.

This research led her to design the R-Shief (in Arabic, “archive”) media system for archiving and analyzing content from social networking sites. The platform for a mind-boggling set of data—blogs, digital art works, and, according to Shereen Sakr, over twenty-six billion hashtag posts and “tweets”—R-Shief provides diverse groups the tools to track real-life developments and parse emergent patterns of discourse via semantic associations and circulating visual memes. Such pattern recognition mechanisms took on a pressing significance during the Arab Uprisings of 2011, as recurring hashtags like #Tahrir and #Jan25 rose to an informatic crescendo to produce discernible trends.

Laila Shereen Sakr is also a multimedia artist: working as VJ Um Amel (a video disc jockey with more than one hundred works of video remix and data visualization to her credit); as a live cinema performer; and as creator/presenter of R-Shief-related visualizations, computer applications, and media systems.


Professor Shereen Sakr’s areas of research and teaching span across Arab world and United States. She is fluent in Arabic (Egyptian dialect) and French. Her courses slated for the coming year are, in the Winter, FAMST 165DA Digital Activism and New Media in the Middle East and the graduate seminar, Data Visualization as Media Praxis, and, in the Spring FAMST 109:GA Glitch Art and Remix Cinematic Production.

She has shown her work in museums across the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East, and has published extensively. Recent reviews appear in The Wall Street Journal, Science, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, Voice of America, The Monocle, Art Territories, Digital Media and Learning, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, Jadaliyya, and The Creators Project.

Film and Media Studies focuses on film, television, and new media around the world. With 400 undergraduate majors and more than two dozen graduate students, FMS cultivates critical and analytical skills through the study of media objects and practices. Majors have the opportunity to interact closely with our distinguished faculty through collaborative research projects and to engage with a vibrant mix of activities and student organizations, such as the Screenwriters' Co-op, Reel Loud Film Festival, and Media Fields Journal. The department furthermore encourages students to explore future career paths and to build relationships with our network of committed alumni, many of whom return to campus regularly to share their experiences and insights. Our rigorous curriculum of study is fostering a new generation of visionaries with a stake in producing and understanding the future of screen media.