Con+tagion – Participant Bios

Panel 1: Con + tain 

DANIEL GRINBERG is a Film and Media Studies PhD candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His scholarship focuses on the interrelations of documentary film, surveillance records, and Freedom of Information Act disclosures, and how these media forms can help us re-view contemporary war and security practices. His writing has appeared in publications such as Studies in Documentary Film, Spectator, and Jump Cut, and is forthcoming in Cinema JournalSurveillance & Society, and Journal of War and Culture Studies. He is the co-editor of the “Surveillance States” issue of Media Fields Journal and the co-organizer of Power Dynamics: 2016 Media and the Environment Conference and Ruins: 2017 Media Fields Conference.

JUSTINE BAKKER is a doctoral student in the African American Religious Studies program at Rice University. She earned a BA in European Studies (2010) and Religious Studies (2011) from the University of Amsterdam, where she subsequently also completed the two-year research master program in Religious Studies (2013). Justine has contributed a chapter to the anthology Esotericism, Gnosticism and Mysticism in the African American Religious Experience (Brill, 2014) and has presented several papers at academic conferences. Justine’s research interests include contemporary African American religion, esotericisms, theories of the (post)human, and (black) critical theory.

PATRICK BRODIE is a PhD student in Film and Moving Image Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. He received his MA in Film Studies from Columbia University. His ongoing dissertation project will investigate Irish media industries, infrastructure, and built space in relation to financialization and globalization in the post-crisis environment. His research interests include film and media circulation, piracy, neoliberalism and free trade zones, theories of modernity, and alternative spaces and modes of moving image exhibition.

Panel 2: Con + tract

ELI DUNN is a PhD student in English at the University of Southern California, where they study the intersections of queer theory, television, new media, and contemporary literature. Their work focuses on the queer reading strategies of both content creators and consumers with an emphasis on theories of time and embodiment. They are also collaborating on the “Harry Potter Hookup Map”, a digital mapping project that investigates the ecology of queer intimacy in fan fiction, with their colleague Elle Everhart.  Eli received their MA in English from the University of Virginia in 2016, and their BA from UC Irvine in 2011. EMMA BEN AYOUN is a third-year PhD student in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California. Her work focuses on global and trans-historical representations of sickness and bodily otherness.

TRISTAN BEACH is a PhD student in the department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. His research interests include German media theory, psychoanalysis, sound studies, cybernetics, and media archaeology. His MA research examined the “new visibility of policing” [via surveillance and sousveillance] as well as the overlooked relevance of sound—a “new audibility” in policing and protest movements against police violence. He did his BA in German and history at Bates College and his MA in European Media Studies at the University of Potsdam [Germany].

Panel 3: Con + vulse

MAGDALENA YUKSEL is a doctoral candidate in Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, currently working on the European refugee crisis in relation to the War on Terror. She holds a double BA in Polish and English philology from Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland and an MA from Bilkent University, Turkey in Media and Visual Studies. Her MA thesis was dedicated to the Iraq War, where she analyzed the Iraq War films as a new subgenre of a war film. She is the co-author of “Generation Kill and the New Screen Combat,” published in Anna Froula and Stacy Takacs’s American Militarism on the Small Screen. She has worked on other projects involving postcolonial studies, dystopian film, multicultural England in films and television, and the effects of globalization on third world countries as shown in films.

MICHAEL ANTHONY TURCIOS is a PhD student in the department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California. Turcios’ comparative research explores the production of urban cultural works across muralism, protest art, paper-based documents, and non-theatrical films that comment on and critique anti-immigrant rhetoric, militarization of space, and gentrification in immigrant communities of Los Angeles, California and Paris, France.

SOPHIA WAGNER-SERRANO is a 4th year PhD Student in Cinema and Media Studies at University of Southern California. She is completing her dissertation on media surrounding the Mexican Drug War. Additional research interests include experimental and documentary film, contemporary Latin American cinema, and digital media.

ESZTER ZIMANYI is a PhD student and Annenberg Fellow in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California. Her work has been published in Transnational Cinemas, Media Fields Journal, Jadaliyya, and Enclave Review. She served as the lead research assistant for the book Fifty Years of the Battle of Algiers: Past as Prologue, authored by Sohail Daulatzai, as well as the editorial assistant for Return of The Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop. Eszter also acted as a curatorial assistant for Histories Absolved: Revolutionary Cuban Poster Art and the Muslim International, which showcased rare posters from Cuba’s OSPAAAL collective. Most recently, Eszter co-edited an issue of the media studies journal Spectator. Her current research considers the historical and ideological connections between the Cold War and the War on Terror through examining narratives of displacement and exile between Eastern Europe and the greater Middle East, with a particular focus on Europe’s contemporary migrant/refugee crisis. Eszter’s research interests include migration, diaspora, and refugee studies, global and transnational media, postcolonial and postsocialist studies, documentary, and digital media.

Panel 4: Con + tinue

LAURA STAMM is a Film Studies PhD Candidate at the University of Pittsburgh. Her dissertation “New Queer Cinema and the Biopic: Sustaining Life during the AIDS Crisis” explores queer filmmakers’ turn to, and transformations of, biographical film in the years surrounding the AIDS crisis of the 1980s-1990s.

JOSH FOLEY is a second year MA student at the University of Southern California. His interests range widely from early cinema to film theory to the political and art cinemas of Europe. He has worked as an intern at Facets Multimedia in Chicago and has a BA from Kalamazoo College in English Literary and Cultural studies.

WENTAO MA is an MA candidate and faculty research assistant of Film and Media Studies program at Columbia University. He has presented his works at several academic conferences at Yale University, University of Oxford, and City University of New York. His research interests focus on cinema and temporality, masculinity and male melodrama, and East Asian cinema in world film culture.

Panel 5: Con + tact

AMY SKJERSETH examines sound, music, and voice in cinema through transhistorical and multisensory frameworks. She is currently a Ph.D. student in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. She has her M.A. in English (2016, McGill University), B.M. in Oboe Performance (2013, Eastman School of Music), and B.A. in English (2013, University of Rochester). Through sound studies and theories of embodiment, she close reads sound as a material linkage between spectators and onscreen bodies.

MELINDA D. STANG is a graduate student in Cinema & Media Studies and a certificate candidate in Gender Studies at University of Southern California. Her current research interests include cross-gendered identification, trauma theory, and aesthetics in contemporary horror media. Melinda holds a B.A. in History of Art and History from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

JEREMY CHANG-LING HSU is a graduate student in Graduate Institute for Studies in Visual Cultures at National University of Yang-Ming, Taipei, Taiwan. His research interest lies in the area of culture studies, ranging from posthumanism to popular culture to media studies. His current research focuses on the posthuman tendency in K-Pop and the similarities between K-Pop choreography and cell movements.


NITIN GOVIL is Associate Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California (USC). Prior to joining USC in 2012, he was on the Media Studies faculty at the University of Virginia, the Communication faculty at the University of California, San Diego, and held a visiting appointment in the School of Arts and Aesthetics at Jawaharlal Nehru University. His research and teaching revolve around global media, with a focus on film culture in comparative contexts. He is the co-author of Global Hollywood (2001) and Global Hollywood 2 (2005). His new book is Orienting Hollywood: A Century of Film Culture between Los Angeles and Bombay.

Other work has been published in journals like Cinema Journal, Television and New MediaBioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, Radical Philosophy, and the International Journal of Communication. His work has also appeared in book collections that include Media Industries: History, Theory, and Method, No Limits: Studies of Media from India, The Contemporary Hollywood Film Industry, Television Studies, The Bollywood Reader, Media/Space: Place, Scale and Culture in a Media Age, the Sarai Reader series, and Contracting Out Hollywood. His writing has been translated into Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Turkish. He is currently completing a co-authored study of the Indian film industries and a book on transnational media culture during the Cold War.

HOLLY WILLIS is a research professor in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, where she also serves as the Chair of the Media Arts + Practice Division. MA+P offers a rigorous and creative environment for scholarly innovation as students explore the intersection of cinema, design, new media and critical thinking while defining new modes of research and scholarship for the 21st century. Willis is also the co-founder of Filmmaker Magazine, dedicated to independent filmmaking; she is the editor of The New Ecology of Things (Art Center, 2007), a book about ubiquitous computing; and she is the author of New Digital Cinema: Reinventing the Moving Image (Wallflower Press, 2005), which chronicles the advent of digital filmmaking tools and their impact on contemporary media practices, as well as Fast Forward: The Futures of the Cinematic Arts (Wallflower Press, 2016). She publishes a column on contemporary film schools for Filmmaker Magazine, and writes frequently about experimental film, video and new media and new directions in teaching and learning.

ANIKÓ IMRE is a Professor and Chair of the Division of Cinema & Media Studies and a member of the faculty board of the Interdivisional Media Arts and Practice Doctoral Program (iMAP). She came to USC after completing a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis (ASCA) of the University of Amsterdam, where she participated in a collaborative project on media globalization and post-Wall European transformations. She has published widely and teaches courses on film and media theory, global television, national and transnational media and European media.

She is the author of TV Socialism (Duke UP, 2016) and Identity Games: Globalization and the Transformation of Post-Communist Media Cultures (MIT Press, 2009) editor of East European Cinemas (AFI Film Readers, Routledge, 2005), The Blackwell Companion to East European Cinemas (2012), and co-editor of Transnational Feminism in Film and Media (Palgrave, 2007), Popular Television in the New Europe (Routledge, 2012); of special issues of The Journal of Popular Film and Television on Television Entertainment in the New Europe (2012), the European Journal of Cultural Studies on Media Globalization and Post-Socialist Identities (May 2009), and of Feminist Media Studies, on Transcultural Feminist Mediations (December 2009). She co-edits the Palgrave book series Global Cinemas and sits on the editorial boards of several journals in media, cultural and communication studies.

LAN DUONG is Associate Professor in the Bryan Singer Division of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Treacherous Subjects: Gender, Culture, and Trans-Vietnamese Feminism(Temple University Press, 2012). Dr. Duong’s second book project, Transnational Vietnamese Cinemas and the Archives of Memory, examines Vietnamese cinema from its inception to the present day. Her research interests include feminist film theory, postcolonial literature, and Asian American film and literature. Duong’s critical works can be found in Signs, MELUS, Journal of Southeast Asian StudiesJournal of Asian American Studies, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, AmerasiaAsian CinemaDiscourse, Velvet Light Trap, and the anthologies, Transnational Feminism in Film and Media and Southeast Asian Cinema. She has coedited an award-winning anthology calledSoutheast Asian Women in the Diaspora: Troubling Borders in Literature and Art (University of Washington Press, 2013). Duong is also a Founding Member of the Critical Refugee Studies Collective.

VIRGINIA KUHN is Associate Director of the Institute for Multimedia Literacy and Associate Professor in the Division of Media Arts + Practice. Her work centers on visual and digital rhetoric, feminist theory and algorithmic research methods. Kuhn’s current research projects include the VAT (video analysis tableau), which applies computational methods to the study of vast filmic archives, and The Library Machine, a gesture-based visual interface for searching library collections. She recently published (with Vicki Callahan) a collection titled Future Texts: Subversive Performance and Feminist Bodies (Parlor Press, 2016) and has edited two peer-reviewed digital anthologies (with Victor Vitanza), MoMLA: From Panel to Gallery (Kairos, 2013) and From Gallery to Webtext: A Multimodal Anthology (Kairos, 2008). In 2005, Kuhn successfully defended one of the first born-digital dissertations in the United States, challenging archiving and copyright conventions. Committed to helping shape open source tools for scholarship, she also published the first article created in the authoring platform, Scalar titled “Filmic Texts and the Rise of the Fifth Estate,” (IJLM, 2010) and she serves on the editorial boards of several peer reviewed digital and print-based journals. Kuhn was the 2009 recipient of the USC Provost’s award for Teaching with Technology. She directs the undergraduate Honors in Multimedia Scholarship program, as well as the graduate certificate in Digital Media and Culture, and teaches a variety of graduate and undergraduate classes in new media, all of which marry theory and practice.