Much in the same way I have worked to build a reputation on-campus, through my scholarship I have made strides toward developing a significant profile in the fields of film and media studies. I am particularly proud that I have done so with a balance of publication and presentation in traditional scholarly outlets as well as through my participation in emerging open-access platforms for intellectual exchange. Since 2010, I have published an academic monograph from a top university press, an article in a peer-reviewed journal, a chapter in an edited anthology, four essays in open access outlets, two invited lectures, and seven conference presentations.
Undoubtedly, my biggest achievement as a scholar has been the publication of Back to the Fifties: Nostalgia, Hollywood Film, and Popular Music of the Seventies and Eighties by Oxford University Press. The book is the first sustained analysis of the Fifties nostalgia boom in American film and music in the 1970s and 1980s. Though it has only been out for a few weeks, already the returns are positive. Christine Sprengler, professor of art and author of Screening Nostalgia, has called it “accessible, thoroughly compelling, and deftly attuned to the complexities of popular culture and the nuances of our relationship with its history,” and Kathleen Newman, professor of English at Carnegie Mellon has recently said that the book “exemplifies the best of what we expect cultural studies to do.” Many of my other publications were related to Back to the Fifties—my chapter “Fixing the Fifties” and the article “The Same Old Songs” (which was featured by University of Sussex Film Studies professor Catherine Grant in her important OA review Film Studies for Free) both come from my research into Fifties nostalgia. So too did invited lectures I gave at the Philadelphia Cinema and Media Seminar and Jiangsu University’s School of Foreign Languages.
My work has appeared in traditional scholarly outlets–an academic monograph from a university press, edited anthologies and peer-reviewed journals–but I have also made the conscious effort to participate in forums that are both accessible to and in conversation with a wider audience. I have done this for two reasons. My primary reason for publishing in open access (OA) outlets is that I believe the most important function scholarship serves is the distribution of knowledge to readers. In many cases, this function is better facilitated through OA publications. As a person with a working class background, I am deeply concerned by the increasing barriers (economic and institutional) between people without the benefits of wealth and fora for intellectual exchange. A secondary reason for publishing in open-access outlets is the personal and professional connections that it makes possible. My writing in respected open-access scholarly publications like FLOW and arts and culture websites like CultureBot has led me to relationships with professors, artists, journalists, independent scholars, industry professionals and readers from all backgrounds and intellectual traditions. This not only makes my work more widely read, it also broadens my professional network. Some of the best pre-publication feedback I received on my book manuscript, for example, came from scholars I met through our shared participation in open-access publishing.
I have both short and long-term plans for future scholarship. In the near term, I have an article on The Blues Brothers and the Soul revival that I am preparing for submission to the journal Music and the Moving Image and a forthcoming book review in The Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. In the longer term, I have two projects in the early research stages. The first is a study of cultural geography in the films of Alfred Hitchcock, which emerges out of a conference paper I gave at SCMS in 2013. In the wake of that presentation, Pamela Wojcik of the University of Notre Dame, editor of Palgrave-MacMillan’s Screening Spaces series expressed interest in such a book. The second project investigates the relationship between Hollywood film and Rust Belt cities, both in terms of representation (films set in post-industrial cities like Cleveland, Detroit, and Buffalo) as well as in production (cities like Pittsburgh offering tax incentives to court film production).