My most recent book, Death and the Moving Image, examines the representation of death and dying in mainstream Western cinema from its earliest to its latest renditions. Exploring gender, race, nation and narration, the study isolates how mainstream cinema works to bestow value upon certain lives and specific socio-cultural identities in a hierarchical and partisan way. Dedicated to the popular, to the political and ethical implications of mass culture’s themes and imperatives, this book takes this culture to task for its mortal economies of expendability. It also disinters the capacity for film, and film criticism, to engage with life and vulnerability differently.
In 2009, I ran an international multi-disciplinary conference on Death and Visual Culture which emerged out of collaboration with the ‘End of Life’ Head of the West Midlands’ NHS. As a result of this event, I put together an edited collection drawn from a selection of the papers presented. This book, entitled Envisaging Death: Dying and Visual Culture was published in October 2013.
I have an ongoing interest in theories of gender and sexuality, especially as they interact with the construction of Jewishness and race more broadly. I have published and presented a series of pieces on the intersection of queerness and Jewishness. Grounded in the discourses of race and gender of late nineteenth century Europe, these explore Hollywood, European and Yiddish film and history, and more recently television.
Ethics and film theory
My previous work on the ‘ethics of spectatorship’ has progressed into a questioning of the racialised or imperial, or simply partial, assumptions underlying philosophically informed Western film criticism which addresses the dynamics of watching the suffering of others. While such a questioning underlies my other research projects, it represents a future and more transnational trajectory of my work.