CULTURAL STUDIES AND COMPARATIVE LITERATURE EMERITUS FACULTY
ProfessorPh.D. – Comparative Literature – Indiana University
Having arrived at Stony Brook in 1981, I have taught a wide variety of subjects and served my department in several capacities. Mostly I teach film studies, and although I am something of a lapsed classicist, I also teach a large lecture course on Classical Mythology. I have not published anything in the area of ancient Greek literature since the 1980s, but I always enjoy teaching this course because it gives me an opportunity to keep up with research on the history and literature of ancient Greece, where new discoveries are constantly emerging.
My work in cinema studies has led me to become the Editor-in-Chief of the Cinema and Media Studies section of Oxford Bibliographies:
I have been working on this project since 2010, and it continues to develop. It now functions as the “Anti-Google,” providing peer-reviewed bibliographies on specific issues in cinema and media studies, all of them written by experts in the field. There will eventually be more than 300 articles on the OB Web site, each of them providing a thoroughly annotated guide to the best scholarly literature on specific films, directors, genres, theoretical paradigms, industrial practices, and much more.
My own writing on cinema includes Psychiatry and the Cinema (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1987), Jammin’ at the Margins: Jazz and the American Cinema (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1996), and Black Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture (Rutgers Univ. Press, 2004). I have also published more than 60 articles in journals and anthologies, and I am the co-editor of Screening Genders (Rutgers University Press, 2008).
After the publication of my two anthologies, Jazz Among the Discourses andRepresenting Jazz (both Duke Univ. Press, 1995), I became one of the fathers of the “New Jazz Studies.” Twenty years ago, the study of jazz was limited to the history of the music and the occasional close-reading of a recorded solo. I was one of several scholars from disciplines outside of musicology and music history to open up jazz studies to interdisciplinary approaches involving psychoanalysis, critical race theory, modes of representation, gender theory, and the history of the music’s reception. In 2009, I published Hotter Than That: The Trumpet, Jazz, and American Culture (Farrar Strauss/Faber and Faber). Directed at an audience outside of academia, the book focuses on the role the trumpet has played throughout history with special attention to the achievements of jazz artists such as Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis. While researching the book, I became an amateur trumpet-player myself, and it’s all I can do to stop practicing and do my REAL work!
My current project is a biography of Charles Mingus, in many ways the most important jazz artist in history. This is the first time that I have written a full-scale biography, and I have chosen to write on Mingus because he was a brilliant composer, an accomplished musician and improviser, and a participant in every major moment in jazz history. He is also the author of Beneath the Underdog (Random House, 1972), the single most remarkable autobiography by an important jazz artist. My biography of Mingus will appear in 2014.