James Lastra

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Director of Graduate Studies; Associate Professor in Department of Cinema and Media Studies, Department of English, and the College
Classics 310
Office Hours: Monday 1:00-3:00; Tuesday 2:30-3:45; by apppointment
Ph.D., The University of Iowa
Research 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 (Surrealism, colonialism, and ethnography)


James 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. Lastra has a specific research interest 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, he approaches the American cinema as part of a global system of cultural production and exchange.



  • Issues in Film Sound (Autumn 2021; CMST 28003/38003)
  • Horror and Beyond (Autumn 2021; CMST 65500​​​​​)
  • Film and the Moving Image (Winter 2022, Study Abroad in Paris; CMST 14400)
  • History of International Cinema, Part III: 1960-1990 (Spring 2022; CMST 28700 / 38700)

Previous courses taught include: The Camera and Other Creatures (CMST 67103), Sound Studies (CMST 68004), Senior Colloquium (CMST 29800), The Single-Shot Film (CMST 67120), Contemporary Horror (CMST 25503 / 35503), Senses and Technology (CMST 68008), Cinemas of Immersion (CMST 65510), and Surrealism and the American Cinema (CMST 25800)