James Lastra

Associate Professor, Department of Cinema and Media Studies, Department of English Language & Literature, and the College. Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Classics 310
(773) 702-9244

Ph.D., University of Iowa, 1992.

Special Interests

American cinema after 1925; avant-garde film; sound in film and other media; history and theories of technology and representation; French film culture of the 20s and 30s, especially as it relates to Surrealism, colonialism, and ethnography

OFFICE HOURS: Mon. 1:00pm - 3:00pm; Tues. 2:30pm-3:45pm; by appointment

Jim Lastra specializes in American film, and has published extensively on sound in film, especially as it relates to the unfolding history of modernity and the aesthetics of both high and vernacular modernisms. Other sound interests include the material history of human sensory experience and how it conditions the emergence and normalization of representational technologies. His latest sound research deals with theories of asynchronous sound in film, and with the Wagnerian aesthetics of modern sound design in American film. He has specific research interests in Surrealism both in Europe and in the United States, silent film comedy, American experimental film, and the films and writing of Luis Buñuel. Like most of the members of Cinema and Media Studies, Lastra approaches the American cinema as part of a global system of cultural production and exchange.


Field specialties:

American Film, 1926-present; Sound In Film; Technology and Representation; Avant-Garde Film; Surrealism; Film Theory.

Selected Publications:

  • Sound Technologies and the American Cinema: Perception, Representation, Modernity. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.
  • "'Why is this absurd picture here?': Ethnology/Heterology/Buñuel." October 89 (Summer, 1999).
  • "Standards and Practices: Aesthetic Norm and Technological Innovation In The American Cinema," The Studio System. Ed. Janet Staiger. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1995. 200-225.
  • "From the Captured Moment to the Cinematic Image: A Transformation in Pictorial Coherence." The Image in Dispute: Painting and Cinema in the Age of Photography. Ed. Dudley Andrew. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995. 263-291.
  • "Reading, Writing, and Representing Sound." Sound Theory/Sound Practice. Ed. Rick Altman. New York: Routledge/AFI, 1992. 65-86.