James Leo Cahill

Assistant Professor (On leave 2017-18)
inema Studies Institute and Department of French

Office: Room 323E, Innis College
Phone: 416-978-6883
Email: james.cahill@utoronto.ca


Research and Teaching

James Leo Cahill’s research focuses on French cinema, documentary and experimental media, and critical theory. He has a special interest in scientific cinema and animals and moving image media. His first book, Cinema’s Copernican Vocation: Zoological Surrealism and the Early Films of Jean Painlevé, is forthcoming in 2018 from the University of Minnesota Press. He is beginning a project on the postwar French cinema and literature of exploration and its conceptualizations of the world, the globe, and globalization in the contexts of collaboration, colonialism, and coca-colonisation as well as a project on media temporalities. He is general editor of Discourse: Journal of Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture. During 2017-18 he will be a residential fellow at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, and a visiting professor at the Franke Institute for the Humanities at the University of Chicago.

Professor Cahill teaches courses on French cinema, international cinema history and theory, and animals and cinema. At the graduate level he teaches seminars on Surrealism and cinema, theories and practices of cinematic media, montage and/as historical method, and film and media historiography.  



Ph.D. University of Southern California 
M.A.    University of California, Irvine 
M.A.    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 
A.B.    Occidental College 


Select Publications

Articles in Academic Journals

“Double Exposures: Derrida and Cinema. An Introduction,” with Timothy Holland, Discourse 37.1-2, special issue “Derrida and Cinema,” eds. James Leo Cahill and Timothy Holland (2015): 3-21. 

Translation and commentary essay for Émile Vuillermoz, “Concision,” Empedocles: European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication 5.1, special issue: The Short Film Experience, eds. Pepita Hesselberth and Carlos Roos (2015): 25-30. 

“Grafomanie und Zoophilie: Zwei Punkte auf Sergei M. Eisensteins Linie” [Graphomania and Zoophilia: Two Points on Sergei M. Eisenstein’s Lines], trans. Elisabeth Winkelmann, Kunstforum International 225 (2014): 90-99. 

“Forgetting Lessons: Jean Painlevé’s Gay Science,” Journal of Visual Culture 11.3: “Science and Documentary,” eds. Oliver Gaycken and Joshua Malitsky (2012): 258-287. Translated into Japanese by Harumi Osaki as “授レツスン業 を忘れること,” Ecce 3 (2012): 2-36. 

“Hors d’œuvre: Science, the Short Film, and The Perception of Life,” Framework 52.1-2: “Things Fall Apart: Peter Whitehead,” eds. Paul Cronin, James Riley, and Drake Stutesman (2011): 66-82.

“How It Feels To Be Run Over: Early Film Accidents,” Discourse, 30.3: Special Issue: “Cinema and Accident” (Fall 2008): 289-316.

“Anacinema: Peter Tscherkassky’s Cinematic Breakdowns (Towards the Unspeakable Film),” Spectator, 28.2 (Fall 2008): 90-101.

“… and afterwards? Martin Arnold’s Phantom Cinema,” Spectator: Special Issue: “Deaths of Cinema,” 27 (Supplement: Summer 2007): 19-25. 


Articles in Books

“Animal Photogénie: The Wild Side of French Film Theory’s First Wave,” in Animal Life and the Moving Image, eds. Michael Lawrence and Laura McMahon (London: British Film Institute/Palgrave, 2015), 23-41. 

“A YouTube Bestiary: 26 Theses on a Post-Cinema of Animal Attractions” in The New Silent Cinema, eds. Paul Flaig and Katherine Groos (New York: AFI/Routledge, 2015), 263-293. Winner of the 2017 SCMS Award for Best Essay in an Edited Collection.

“Gross Anatomies,” in Martin Arnold: Gross Anatomies (Nuremberg: Verlag für Moderne Kunst, 2015), 6-15. 

“Anthropomorphism and its Vicissitudes: Reflections on Homme-sick Cinema,” in Screening Nature: Cinema Beyond the Human, eds. Anat Pick and Guinevere Narraway (Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2013), 73-90. 

“Substance Abuse, or, on the essence of cinema,” in The Prisoner’s Cinema, ed. Melvin Moti (Rotterdam, 2008), 4-35.

“The Cineseizure,” in Martin Arnold: The Cineseizure (Vienna: Index; Paris: Re/Voir, 2006), 2-10.