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Professor Karl Schoonover

Karl SchoonoverProfessor of 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 by the Society of Film and Media Studies. 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 a scholarly caucus for art historians and visual culture researchers within the Society for Cinema and Media Studies called CinemArts. He work has been translated and published in Portuguese, Italian, Turkish, and Japanese.

He was 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).

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.



Teaching and supervision

In the Spring of 2021, I am teaching 'Film Theory'.

I have supervised PhDs on film theory, film aesthetics, world cinema, queer television, African cinema, Italian film history, 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

  • Faculty Education Committee

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.



Film Theory

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