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Dr Karl Schoonover

Karl SchoonoverAssociate Professor (Reader) in Film & Television Studies

Tel: +44 2476 150684
Email: k dot schoonover at warwick dot ac dot uk

Room A0.23
Millburn House
University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7HS


Karl Schoonover holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University as well as an B.A. from Hampshire College (Amherst, Massachusetts). He has written widely on topics including film theory, slow cinema, the representation of toxic waste, photographic hoaxes, stardom in the 1970s, and many aspects of Italian cinema. His most recent book was awarded the Katherine Singer Kovács award for outstanding monograph in film and media studies. Currently, he is co-investigator on the AHRC Major Research Project 'Producers and Production Practice in the History of Italian Cinema, 1949-1975' (2016-2019). He was co-investigator on the AHRC-funded 'Global Queer Cinema' project (2011-2013). He serves on the editorial boards of the journals the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies (formerly Cinema Journal) and Film Criticism. He is an advisory board member for Routledge's Remapping World Cinema book series and co-founded of a scholarly caucus for art historians and visual culture researchers within the international Society for Cinema and Media Studies called CinemArts. He work has been translated and published in Portuguese, Italian, Turkish, and Japanese.

Research interests

My research explores the relationship of cinema aesthetics to political change. I am also interested in the history of film theory, particularly its engagement with questions of realism, temporality, excess, obscenity, and the photographic image.

My first book Brutal Vision: The Neorealist Body in Postwar Italian Cinema explores how Neorealist films used images of suffering to reconstitute the idea of the human, to recalibrate the scale of human community, and to endorse a foreign spectator as a necessary moral onlooker. The ‘brutal humanism’ of these films, I argue, provided an affective bolster to the socio-economic bonds of the North Atlantic community and to a new culture of transnational humanitarian aid that threatened national sovereignty. With Rosalind Galt, I edited the book Global Art Cinema, an anthology that examines art cinema’s persistence as a category in the era of globalisation. My collaboration with Galt continues with a monograph that we wrote together, Queer Cinema in the World (Duke University Press, 2016). This book proposes that queer cinema makes the world anew. It examines both how overtly queer film practices world themselves and how world cinema so often turns to the queer as a means of establishing a global scale. In both cases, our analysis demonstrates how queerness allows the world to be visible, known, and palpable. By exploring where queer cinema can be found in the world, we ask what institutional spaces nourish or enable queer film cultures, circulation, and reception and what spaces foreclose on it. From Chinese lesbian romance to Swedish genderqueer documentary, and from Bangladeshi melodrama to Brazilian art film, it demands a radically revised account of cinema’s queer globalism.

My new book project looks at cinema as a medium defined by its relationship to waste. The book examines how films turn to trash as a means of refashioning the broader politics of cultural production and value.

Selected Publications


  • Queer Cinema in the World, a monograph co-written with Rosalind Galt. (Duke University Press, 2016.
    — Winner of the Society of Cinema and Media Studies Katherine Singer Kovács Book Award.


  • 'Circulation and Chiamami col tuo nome: worldly desires, historical efflorescence, and Italy' (co-written with Rosalind Galt) Italian Culture, forthcoming 2019.
  • 'Sinkholes' Journal of Cinema and Media Studies [formerly Cinema Journal] 58.2 (2019): 169-174.
  • 'What do we do with vacant space in horror films?' Discourse: Journal for theoretical studies in media and culture 40.3 (Forthcoming, 2018): 342-357.
  • 'The Cinema of Disposal: Max Ophuls and Accumulation in America' differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 29.1 (2018): 33-65.
  • 'When Cinema Was Humanism' in World Cinemas, Global Networks, eds. Elena Gorfinkel and Tami Williams, Rutgers University Press (2018): 117-140.
  • 'Gli sguardi del dopoguerra: il neorealismo e i suoi altri' in Intorno al Neorealismo, eds. Maria Paola Pierini, Giulia Carluccio, and Emiliano Morreale, Milan: Scalpendi (2017): 57-66.
  • 'Provincializing Heterosexuality: queer style, world cinema' (co-written with Rosalind Galt) in The Routledge Companion to World Cinema, eds. Rob Stone et al. Routledge (2017): 347-358.
  • 'Scrap Metal, Stains, Clogged Drains: Argento’s Refuse and Its Refusals' in Italian Horror Cinema, eds. Stefano Baschiera and Russ Hunter, Edinburgh University Press (2016): 111-125.
  • 'Hypotheses on the Queer Middlebrow' (co-written with Rosalind Galt) in Middlebrow Cinema, ed. Sally Faulkner. Routledge (2016):196-211.
  • 'Os mundos do cinema queer: da estética ao ativismo [The worlds of queer cinema: from aesthetics to activism]' (co-written with Rosalind Galt), translated into Portuguese, ArtCultura 17.30 (January – June, 2015): 97-107.
  • 'Queer or Human?: Film Festivals, Human Rights and Global Film Culture' Screen 56.1 (Spring 2015): 121-132.
  • Histrionic Gestures and Historical Representation: Masina’s Cabiria, Bazin’s Chaplin, and Fellini’s NeorealismCinema Journal 53.2 (Winter 2014): 93-116.
  • Documentaries without Documents: Ecocinema and ToxinsNECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies No. 4 (Autumn 2013).
  • Wastrels of Time: Slow Cinema’s Laboring Body, the Political Spectator, and the QueerFramework 53.1 (Spring 2012): 65-78.
    — reprinted in Slow Cinema, ed. Tiago de Luca and Nuno Barradas Jorge, Edinburgh University Press, 2016.
  • David Wojnarowicz’s Graven Image: Cinema, Censorship, and QueersWorld Picture 6 (Winter 2011).
  • ‘Antonioni’s Waste Management’ in Antonioni: Centenary Essays. Ed. John David Rhodes and Laura Rascaroli. Palgrave/British Film Institute. (2011): 235-253.
  • ‘The Impurity of Art Cinema’ (co-written with Rosalind Galt) in Global Art Cinema: New Theories and Histories Oxford University Press. (2010): 3-27.
  • ‘Divine: Towards an “Imperfect” Stardom’ in Hollywood Reborn: Movie Stars of the 1970s. Ed. James Morrison. Rutgers UP (2010): 158-181.
  • ‘The Comfort of Carnage: Realism and America’s World Understanding’ in Convergence Media History. Ed. Janet Staiger and Sabine Hake. Routledge Press (2009): 127-138.
  • ‘Neorealism at a Distance’ in European Film Theory. Ed. Temenuga Trifonova. Routledge Press, AFI Film Readers Series (2008): 301-318.
  • Ectoplasms, Evanescence, and PhotographyArt Journal. 62.2 (Fall 2003): 30-41.


Teaching and supervision

In the Spring of 2019, I will be teaching 'Eco-cinema: environment and the politics of film'.

I have supervised PhDs on film theory, film aesthetics, world cinema, queer television, African cinema, and experimental European cinema of the mid-twentieth century. I am especially interested in supervising postgraduate projects related to film theory, the politics of world cinemas, contemporary moving image aesthetics, and queer cinema.

Administrative roles

  • Equality and Diversity Advisory Committee
  • Faculty Education Committee
  • Director of Graduate Studies

National roles and professional associations

I am a member of SCMS (Society of Cinema and Media Studies), NECS (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies), and the BFI (British Film Institute). I am a member of the Midlands Television Research Group. In 2008, I co-founded the scholarly interest group CinemArts within SCMS, and served as its co-chair for several years. I serve on the editorial boards of the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies [Formerly Cinema Journal] and Film Criticism.



FI109: Theories of the Moving Image

FI332/FI929: Ecocinema

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