Areas of Expertise: Documentary Theory/History, Critical Theory, New Media Studies, Film Theory, Film History/Historiography My work in film and media studies centers on questions of participation, intersubjectivity, collaboration, and everyday life within the context of documentary filmmaking as well as autoethnographic video and essayistic digital cultures. The spark for this direction came from an NYU undergraduate course with the late documentarian George Stoney, which featured a visit from a New York-based youth media organization, the Global Action Project. This organization deployed autobiographical and autoethnographic video production as a way for young people to cope with traumatic social and political issues through collaboration and inspired my article, “Global and Local Selves: (Dis)Placed Youth and Fraught Articulations of Home in the Global Action Project’s Peace of Mind” (Spectator 27.2). This led to a broader interest in the histories, theories, and practices of other NGOs whose work on autoethnographic film/video production had similar pedagogical goals. Additional articles on this front included, “Branching Out: Young Appalachian Selves, Auto-Ethnographic Aesthetics and the Founding of Appalshop,” appearing in the Journal of Popular Film & Television; and “Claims to Be Heard: Young Self-Expressivity, Social Justice, and the Educational Video Center,” in Jump Cut. The above work on the youth media organization, Appalshop, and its inception as a project of the War on Poverty (as a community film workshop) drew me further into a historical line of inquiry to consider understudied community-based and nontheatrical uses of the motion picture, ones that were tethered to postwar struggles for racial equality and deeply engaged with radical democratic principles. This path led, in 2012-13, to my receipt of a Fulbright Fellowship to pursue research on state-sponsored uses of documentary film to mediate and mitigate social conflict fueled by race and class. The result was my first book-length study, entitled Projecting Race: Postwar America, Civil Rights, and Documentary Film (Wallflower/Columbia University Press, 2016). Projecting Race presents a history of documentary filmmaking in the postwar era in light of race relations and the fight for Civil Rights. Drawing on extensive archival research and textual analyses, this book tracks the evolution of race-based, nontheatrical cinema from its neorealist roots (The Quiet One, Palmour Street, and All My Babies) to its incorporation of new documentary techniques intent on recording reality in real time (With No One to Help Us, Another Way, The Man in the Middle, The Farmersville Project, and The Hartford Project). The archival research that contributed to Projecting Race is also animating my second book, a work-in-progress entitled Stoney: A Committed Life, A Committed Cinema. This book will review the life and work of George C. Stoney, whom the New York Times characterized as a “dean of American documentary.” Stoney’s remarkable life and work encompasses much of the twentieth century and represents an intersection of the history of North American social change with the history of cinema. The uniqueness of his story reflects his singular trajectory as a filmmaker whose work was often activist and collaborative, always contesting the boundaries of documentary conventions to feature voices and experiences that are typically rendered invisible in the American public sphere. This continuity to his life and work takes on distinct inflections across the decades, from the late thirties to the 2000s, and through his various filmic, programmatic, and activist endeavors. Alongside these historical inquiries, I am continuing to explore the above themes within the context of contemporary media activist cultures and digital essayistic practices. This includes an anthology, co-edited with Chris Robé, on global media activism, entitled InsUrgent Media from the Front: A Global Media Activist Reader (under review), as well as another book project, The Twenty-First Century Essayistic. Informed by my courses on new media and digital documentary, this latter project is centered on the convergence of essayistic modes of expression and digital media. The historical legacy of the essayistic form, and its fusion of autobiographical expression with commentary on public experiences, has proven to be quite elastic as photographic and cinematic essays were quite common throughout the twentieth century. While there remains much to study about these past adaptations of the essay form, this project essentially looks at the pervasiveness of the essayistic as a frame for a whole range of digital media experiences.
I’m currently a fixed-term assistant professor in American studies at the University of Graz in Austria and the managing editor of JAAAS: The Journal of the Austrian Association for American Studies. Most of my research centers on horror & the Gothic.
Middle English and Anglo-Latin literature, public poetry, documentary culture, urban and commercial history, medieval historiography
Documentary, film & media studies, black popular cultures, women & gender studies
I am a 3rd year PhD student at UW’s Department of Comparative Literature, Cinema and Media Studies, where I also work as a teaching assistant. I am currently working towards a dissertation that revolves around non-fiction cinema in Mexico between 1961 and 1987. I mainly study political and social documentaries around the globe through the prism of montage, human face, city, sound and silence, fiction and truth. In the past I have published an essay on 1940s Indian cinema
Religion, philosophy, and Japanese anime and manga.
Nanci Buiza is Associate Professor of Spanish at Swarthmore College. Her research and teaching focus on contemporary Mexican and Central American literature, culture, and cinema, and in particular, on issues of migration, violence, ethics, aesthetics, postwar trauma, and affect theory. She has published peer-reviewed articles in Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, A Contracorriente, Istmo: Revista virtual de estudios literarios y culturales centroamericanos, Iberoamericana, and Hispanic Research Journal; and has an article forthcoming in Hispanófila. She is currently writing a book on postwar Central American literature.