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 University of Colorado, Boulder

Jennifer Peterson


Jennifer Peterson’s research and teaching focus on cinema history, aesthetics, modernity, and questions of the archive, with specializations in early cinema and documentary film. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Before coming to CU Boulder in fall 2005, she taught at the University of California Riverside, the University of Southern California, and the California Institute of the Arts. She also worked for three years as an Oral Historian at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles, and briefly in the Home Entertainment division at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Here in the Film Studies Program at CU, Peterson regularly teaches Film History I and II, along with courses on Documentary Film, Melodrama, Film Noir, Women and Film, British Cinema, Cinema and Landscape, Cinema and the Historical Avant-Garde, Film Theory, and an advanced seminar in Media Historiography. She has supervised numerous BA/MA theses, undergraduate Honors theses, independent study projects, and student internships.

Her articles have been published in Cinema Journal, Camera Obscura, The Moving Image, and several edited book collections. Her book, Education in the School of Educ inthe school of DreamsDreams: Travelogues and Early Nonfiction Film, was published by Duke University Press in 2013. For more information, see:

Peterson is currently a Member of the Board of the Stan Brakhage Center at the University of Colorado Boulder. In fall 2012 she was a scholar in residence at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. She has served as the editor of Cinema Journal’s online column “Archival News” (fall 2008-spring 2013), and as chair of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies’ Media Archives Committee (2009-2011). A sample of her DVD commentaries for the award-winning DVD box set, Treasures From the American Film Archives V: The American West can be accessed online at and

Peterson is on sabbatical for the 2013/14 academic year. She is currently working on a book about wilderness landscapes in American film from 1945-1970.


Selected Publications:


Education in the School of Dreams: Travelogues and Early Nonfiction Film (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013). [See:]


“The Art and Commerce of Nineteenth Century Visual Education: The Historiscope and the Milton Bradley Company,” Getty Research Journal, no. 6 (forthcoming 2014).

“Animals in Film and Media,” in Oxford Bibliographies Online: Cinema and Media Studies, edited by Krin Gabbard (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2013).

“When Film Went to College: A Brief History of the USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive,” co-authored with Dino Everett, Archivist at the Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive at the University of Southern California, The Moving Image vol. 13:1 (2013).

“The Front Lawn of Heaven: Landscape in Hollywood Melodrama Circa 1945,” Camera Obscura 74 (Fall 2010), pp. 118-159.

“The Competing Tunes of Johnny Guitar: Liberalism, Sexuality, Masquerade,” Cinema Journal vol. 35 no. 3 (spring 1996): 3-18. Reprinted in The Western Reader, edited by Jim Kitses and Gregg Rickman (New York: Limelight Editions, 1998), pp. 321-339.

Book chapters:

“Celluloid’s Last Stand: Tacita Dean’s Film, History and Digitality,” in Digital Anachronisms, Celluloid Specters: Essays on the New Silent Cinema, edited by Paul Flaig and Katherine Groo (London: Routledge, forthcoming 2014).

“Workers Leaving the Factory: Witnessing Labor in the Digital Age,” in The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media, edited by Amy Herzog, Carol Vernallis, and John Richardson (London: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2013).

“‘The Knowledge Which Comes in Pictures’: Educational Films and Early Cinema Audiences,” in A Companion to Early Cinema, edited by André Gaudreault, Nicolas Dulac, and Santiago Hidalgo (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2012), pp. 277-297.

“Glimpses of Animal Life: Nature Films and the Emergence of Classroom Cinema,” in Learning with the Lights Off: Educational Film in the United States, edited by Devin Orgeron, Marsha Orgeron, and Dan Streible (London: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 145-167. Society for Cinema and Media Studies 2013 award for Best Edited Collection.

 “‘The Nation’s First Playground’: Travel Films and the American West, 1895-1920,” in Virtual Voyages: Cinema and Travel, edited by Jeffrey Ruoff (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), pp. 79-98.

“Travelogues and Early Nonfiction Film: Education in the School of Dreams,” in American Cinema’s Transitional Era, edited by Charlie Keil and Shelley Stamp (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), pp. 191-213.



Film Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder
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