Bio

DEBORAH LEVITT

Assistant Professor of Culture & Media Studies:

The central focus of my research and teaching is on how media-old and new-transform both everyday experience and expanded global, political spheres. As part of my work as a media historian and theorist, I am interested in film, video, digital media (including CGI, VR, and AR), animation, literature, cultural theory, and science and technology studies. My research is motivated by a search for intersections between only apparently divergent domains. Similarly, in my courses, I encourage students to connect their daily engagements with media of all kinds to the archaeologies and larger social structures and forces that inform them.

My current research considers the history and cultural ramifications of exchanges between media texts, tropes, and technologies and rhetorics of “life”: My first book, forthcoming from Zero Books, is called The Animatic Apparatus: Animation, Vitality, and The Futures of the Image. In this work I consider how the ascendance of animation and simulation shift the concept of “life” in contemporary culture. Media examples are drawn from animation, anime, pop culture, VR, and histories of thinking about artificial life. I’m also completing a second book project, ZoeTropes, which takes a longer view of mediatic entanglements with rhetorics and logics of the living. From eighteenth-century tableaux vivants to proto-cinematic optical toys to ALife programs in digital cinema, I investigate how media technologies and texts influence and even create conceptions of life, namely, the ways in which we distinguish animate beings from inanimate ones, organic from inorganic, the lively from the inert. I consider, in turn, how these new forms affect contemporary political debates on the proper beginnings, endings, and usages of biopolitical “life.” I have a continuing interest in theories of moving images—past, present, and future—as well as in intersections between cinema and other media, particularly literature. A future project will investigate the affective dimensions of digital cinema, VR, and AR.

Degrees Held:

PhD, Film, Literature, and Culture, University of Southern California;
BA, English and Film, University of Colorado

Professional Affiliations:

Society for Cinema and Media Studies
Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts