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Danielle Childs


I hold a Bachelor of Arts in English and German Studies from the University of Portland. After completing my undergraduate degree, I worked in Vienna for two years as an English teaching assistant for Fulbright Austria. I then pursued a Masters in Film Aesthetics at the University of Oxford, where I first began to explore my interest in the relationship between cinema and architecture. My current PhD project is funded by a Chancellor’s International Scholarship from the University of Warwick.


My doctoral project investigates the aesthetic utility and cultural significance of the motel in contemporary American independent cinema. Grounded in the historical development of the motel within U.S culture, the research accounts for the setting’s enduring prominence, functions, and shifting meanings within the American film landscape. Combining detailed mise-en-scene criticism with cultural-anthropological lenses informed by spatial theory and emergent strands of mobilities studies, the thesis will present an original, authoritative account of the motel’s character as a long-enduring, endlessly versatile space in American cinema. Though honing in on a very particular architecture within the American built environment, my research also questions the relationship between cinema and architecture more broadly. It asks whether there is an implicit connection between mise-en-scene and architecture as two modes of non-verbal aesthetic expression with the ability to frame and order perception. In doing so, my hope is that the project will provide a roadmap for investigating filmic depictions of other culturally specific architectures.

Supervisors: Dr. James MacDowell and Dr. Michael Pigott

Research Interests

American cinema; film aesthetics; indie cinema; postmodernism and metamodernism; spatial theory; mobilities studies; precarity; the built environment; cinema and architecture


    "Motels, Automobility, and Social Immobility in American Cinema." Mediapolis: A Journal of Cities and Culture 8, no. 3 (September 2023)


      2023-2024 FI249 Hollywood Cinema: History, Theory, Industry (Spring Term)

      2022-2023 FI249 Hollywood Cinema: History, Theory, Industry (Spring Term)

      Conference papers

      ‘Horny Furniture and Renting by the Hour: The Motel as a Place of Sexual Permission and Play in American Cinema’, Sex in Contemporary Media Conference, University of Warwick (6 October 2023)

      ‘Almost Magic Castles: The Motel as Home Approximation in Sean Baker’s The Florida Project’, Screening Spaces of Youth Symposium, Online (2 June 2023)

      ‘Postmodern Parody: The Motel as Cinematic Cliché in Noah Baumbach’s White Noise’, Department of Film and Television Studies Research Day, University of Warwick (10 May 2023)

      ‘Provisional Domesticity and the Built Environment in Andrea Arnold’s American Honey’, Department of Film and Television Studies Research Day, University of Warwick (18 May 2022)


      BAFTSS: British Association of Film, Television, and Screen Studies