Gary Kafer

Gary Kafer
Teaching Fellow in the Humanities, Department of Cinema and Media Studies and the College
Classics 307
PhD, University of Chicago, 2023
Research Interests: Digital Media Studies; Surveillance Studies; Science and Technology Studies; Critical Data Studies; Video Game Studies; State Violence; Visual Culture; Contemporary Art


Gary Kafer is a media studies scholar that examines the politics of twenty-first century digital culture. He received his PhD in Cinema and Media Studies from The University of Chicago in 2023. Focused on surveillance systems, he examines how digital technologies reproduce existing power relations through data-based processes. His first book project, based upon his doctoral thesis, interrogates how the aesthetic framework of ubiquity has come to dominate discussions of surveillance in twenty-first century United States and its transnational reach. In it, he examines how ubiquity glosses over the uneven ways in which state and corporate agents develop and use surveillance systems to distribute visibility and violence. With theories of race, gender, and sexuality, this project traces a range of new technical forms through which surveillance unfolds as a project of capitalist, colonial, and imperial power.

His has actively published work connected to this project as well as related to broader interests in critical data studies and visual culture. This work has appeared in journals such as American Literature, Digital Culture & Society, and qui parle, as well as in numerous edited books, including most recently Queer Data (University of Washington Press). He is co-editor of a special issue of Surveillance & Society on “Queer Surveillance.”

Gary was a Franke Institute for the Humanities Residential Dissertation Completion Fellow for the 2022-2023 academic year. In 2021, he received the Stuart Tave Teaching Fellowship to support the design of his own undergraduate course, “Surveillance Media.” Gary is also a recipient of a Humanities Without Walls Fellowship (2016-18) and Arts, Science + Culture Initiative Fellowship (2019-20). He has been a Preceptor for the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship summer program since 2021 and worked at the Smart Museum of Art as an Academic Engagement Graduate Intern from 2019-2022.

Teaching Experience

Winter Quarter 2024

CMST 10100: Introduction to Film Analysis

CMST 14400: Film and the Moving Image

Autumn Quarter 2023

CMST 14400 Film and the Moving Image

Autumn Quarter 2021

Surveillance Media (TAVE Fellowship course, cross-listed with Media Arts and Design), Lecturer


Film and the Moving Image, Lecturer - Autumn 2020, CMS Undergraduate Preceptor - AY 2019-2020; Advanced Seminar, Preceptor - Autumn 2019; Sound / Image Mapping, CA - Winter 2019