Dave Burnham

Teaching Fellow in the Humanities, Department of Cinema and Media Studies and the College
Classics 410
PhD, University of Chicago, 2021
Research Interests: Aesthetics, theory, and history of avant-gardes in cinema; Stanley Cavell; film theory; left cinemas; modernism; realism


Dave Burnham is a Humanities Teaching Fellow at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on experimental cinema past and present, with particular focus on the modernist moving-image makers of today and the theory and practice of artists in the Anglo American 1960s and 70s. His dissertation, "Viewing the World after Structural Film: Realist Impulses in Experimental Cinema," completed with the support of a Humanities Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship, united these moments by analyzing concepts of world, reality, and illusion in the world of Michael Snow, Kevin Jerome Everson, Deborah Stratman and Hito Steyerl. He is currently at work on a book manuscript that builds on this research to argue for a theory of experimental filmmaking that emphasizes its capacity for capturing and projecting the formal features of reality. Other research interests include philosophical aesthetics and the language of film criticism, the optical printer, the history of film studies as an academic field, Marxist and communist film theory and practice, and 20th century philosophy of language.

Selected Publications

  • Burnham, Dave (2020) "Turning to Nature: Cavell and Experimental Cinema," Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture: Vol. 42 : Iss. 1 , Article 7.


  • Media Aesthetics (HUMA 16000; Autumn 2022)
  • Rethinking Veracity: Experiments in 21st Century Documentary (CMST 28204; Winter 2023)
  • Film and the Moving Image (CMST 14400; Spring 2023)