• colin williamson
Visiting Assistant Professor of Film & Media Studies

Biography

Colin Williamson is a film scholar who specializes in European and American film history, animation, and special effects. He received his Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies from the University of Chicago, and before coming to F&M, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University. In addition to having worked in post-production at New Line Cinema, his research and teaching also extend to art history, visual anthropology, philosophy, and the history of science and technology. His scholarship has been supported by numerous interdisciplinary humanities grants and awards, including fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the University of Chicago, and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Williamson has published widely on film history, animation, science films, and critical theory. His most recent book, Hidden in Plain Sight: An Archaeology of Magic and the Cinema  (Rutgers University Press, 2015), explores the history of the cinema as a technology of illusion, and the experience of wonder during periods of technological innovation from the 19th century to the present. Current projects include essays and articles on early horror films and The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) for a book on Michael Curtiz; on race and colonialism in mid-century ethnographic films; and on the Paper Print Fragment collections at the Library of Congress. He is also working on a new book-length study of the shared history of science and animation in the cinema that focuses on popular science films and television shows made during the Cold War by Walt Disney and a biologist named John Ott. 

 Education
  • Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies, The University of Chicago – Chicago, IL
  • B.A. in Film Studies, The University of California, Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara, CA

 Publications

Hidden in Plain Sight: An Archaeology of Magic and the Cinema (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2015).

“Walter Benjamin: Afterimages of the Aura,” in Thinking in the Dark: Cinema, Theory, Practice, eds. Murray Pomerance and R. Barton Palmer (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2015).

“Quicker Than the Eye? Sleight of Hand and Cinemas of Scientific Discovery from Chronophotography to Cognitive Film Theory,” Leonardo, Journal of Arts, Sciences, and Technology (forthcoming, 2016).

Review of Spectacular Digital Effects: CGI and Contemporary Cinema, by Kristen Whissel. Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television (forthcoming, May 2015).

Translation of Giorgio Agamben, “For an Ethics of the Cinema,” in Cinema and Agamben: Ethics, Biopolitics, and the Moving Image (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2014), co-trans. John Garner.

Translation of Giorgio Agamben, “Cinema and History: On Jean-Luc Godard,” in Cinema and Agamben: Ethics, Biopolitics, and the Moving Image (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2014), co-trans. John Garner.

Review of Between Still and Moving Images: Photography and Cinema in the 20th Century, eds. Laurent Guido and Olivier Lugon. Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television 34, no. 2 (May 2014): 325-327.

Review of Beyond the Screen: Institutions, Networks, and Publics of Early Cinema, eds. Marta Braun, Charles Keil, Rob King, Paul Moore, and Louis Pelletier. Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television 33, no. 3 (September 2013): 528-530.

​Review of Disappearing Tricks: Silent Film, Houdini, and the New Magic of the Twentieth Century, by Matthew Solomon. Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television 32, no. 3 (August 2012): 494-496.

“The Blow Book, Performance Magic, and Early Animation: Mediating the Living Dead.” animation: an interdisciplinary journal 6, no. 2 (July 2011): 111-126. 

 Courses

  • TDF 165 - Introduction to Film and Media Studies
  • TDF 267 - Motion Picture History
  • TDF 363 - Film Theory Seminar: Film and the Uncanny
  • TDF 371 - Revolutionary Cinemas: Power, Colonialism, and Third Cinema 
  • CNX 213 - Virtually Real: Perception, Illusion, Technology