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Phil Wagner

I earned my PhD in Film, Television, and Digital Media from UCLA with an emphasis on the History of Cinema and Film Aesthetics.  My teaching experience covers these topics, but I have also had opportunities to engage students in other areas in the field, including classical and contemporary theory, cultural studies, and creative practice.  As a cinema scholar, I am fascinated by three areas of inquiry in particular:  the aesthetics and functions of historical representation; the use of archives in cinematic production; and the poetics of directorial style across genres and national cinemas.  My book project The Volume of the World: Archival Rhetoric and the Cinematic History of Cecil B. DeMille (University of California Press, forthcoming) exemplifies this approach, bringing together aesthetics and history through a consideration of primary documentation on this director known for his “epic” historical productions.  DeMille’s work, I argue, established the contours of a legitimate “historiographic” discipline within the Hollywood studios. My earlier publications have appeared in journals including Film HistoryFilm & HistoryAfterimage and Senses of Cinema and I have contributed chapters to the AFI’s Epic Film in World Culture reader and to Blackwell’s A Companion to Fritz Lang.  I have also had the good fortune to work as an archivist at UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC), where I processed collections and trained student assistants while overseeing film, photo, and manuscript materials that have since found their way into books, museum exhibitions, and feature-length documentaries.