An annual lecture on cinema and media
Miriam Hansen conceived of, founded, helmed, and guided the Cinema and Media Studies program at the University of Chicago. From 1990 to her death from cancer in 2011, she made it grow from an area of concentration within the English department to a doctoral degree granting Committee and finally to a Department within the Humanities Division. Beyond the university, Hansen was a leading figure in what has been referred to as the “historical turn” in cinema studies. Inspired by work in the critical tradition of the Frankfurt School, she conceived of cinema as a cultural phenomenon which fused technology, aesthetics, and the role of film viewer and audiences. Her books Babel and Babylon: Spectatorship in American Silent Film and the posthumously published Cinema and Experience: Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor W. Adorno created original and compelling frameworks not only for understanding but also for working with the new experiences cinema offered to the twentieth century. The Department of Cinema and Media Studies, desiring both to pay her tribute and to expand her legacy, inaugurates this lecture series in her honor. We aim to invite scholars who share Hansen’s sense of the need for history and theory to intertwine in the ongoing study of cinema and media.