The Mediascape Q&A: Allyson Field, Assistant Professor, Cinema and Media Studies

The Mediascape Q&A is a series of interviews designed to explore the work of UCLA faculty and graduate students beyond the classroom.


Dr. Allyson Field (center) with CMS Ph.D. candidate Samantha Sheppard (l) and Dr. Jacqueline Stewart of Northwestern University (r) at an L.A. Rebellion event, December 2011.

Dr. Allyson Field (center) with CMS Ph.D. candidate Samantha Sheppard (l) and Dr. Jacqueline Stewart of Northwestern University (r) at an L.A. Rebellion event, December 2011.

Matthias Stork: All right, here we go. The first question: what first drew you to studying film?

Allyson Field: [Laughs] Oh, wow, OK. I have to think way back. Well, I began studying film as an undergraduate. I was an art history major at Stanford. And Stanford’s one of the very few art history programs that doesn’t have a critical animosity towards film as a medium, and so it seemed very natural for me. I was interested in 20th-century art, mostly painting and theory. And I was interested in limits of representation, and then I started taking film classes with some professors when I was an undergrad, most notably Scott Bukatman when he came to Stanford when I was a junior, and then Pamela Lee and then some classes in the French department with Jean-Marie Apostolidès on political filmmaking in France. And then I ended up writing my senior thesis on Jean-Luc Godard and Guy Debord as political filmmakers. I was really interested in theoretical questions about representation of politics and questions of modernity answered through film, and so I started in art history but I was really gravitating towards film studies. When I graduated, I ended up applying to the University of Amsterdam to work with Thomas Elsaesser, and there I started working more on film. So I guess that’s the trajectory to film through art history. And then it wasn’t really until much later that I realized that looking at or studying film within the context of art history was really uncommon, that it had been a discipline that really emerged out of literary criticism or language departments. I was very privileged to be able to study film with a background in formal analysis but also theory, and that bode well for future studies, I guess. It’s a very different trajectory than I think a lot of people who either come to film from literature or come to film from industrial studies ever encounter. I was studying film as art, focusing on the avant-garde and then that post-’60s experimental filmmaking, but it was really not until much later that I kind of understood film as an industry, or as an object of industrial concern as well. Continue reading “The Mediascape Q&A: Allyson Field, Assistant Professor, Cinema and Media Studies” »