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Professor Robert Burgoyne (retired)

Honorary Professor in Film Studies

I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota (summa cum laude) and my doctorate at New York University.

My work centers on historiography and film, with a special emphasis on American cinema, history and national identity, and the counter narratives of nation that have emerged in many films.  Recent publications include Film Nation: Hollywood Looks at U. S. History: Revised and Expanded Edition and The Epic Film in World Culture. I have also published on memory and contemporary American culture; cinephilia in the work of Douglas Gordon and Corey Arcangel; and the imagery of haunting and spectrality in the war film. Narrative theory, Italian cinema, and the impact of digital technologies on film form and theory are also subjects on which I have published, and which I continue to pursue. Much of my recent work flows from my central interest in the cinematic rewriting of history, and the power of film to illuminate the contemporary moment by reconceiving the dominant fictions that have formed around the past.


Current research

I am currently researching and writing on the war film, with an optic derived from the recent work of Hardt and Negri, Jameson, and Virilio.  I consider the war film as a genre of embodiment, a "body genre," that employs sound, image, editing, and camera movement to intensify the affective engagement of the spectator.   My premise is that the war film, far from being restricted to the codes of realism and verisimilitude, conveys an intensified somatic experience of combat and trauma that foregrounds the significance of the "body at risk" as the core device of the genre.  Reconsidering the war film as a genre of the visceral, I am exploring the way the body is mapped onto systems of ideology, technology, and onto discourses of the phantasmatic and uncanny.