Charlie Keil

Professor & Principal of Innis College
inema Studies Institute and Department of History

Office: Room 125, Innis College
Phone: 416-978-2510


Research and Teaching:

Charlie Keil’s research has consistently focused on what he has termed the “transitional” period of early American cinema, understood to coincide with the single-reel era of production and stretching into the early feature period. As a counterpart to his research on American cinema, he has been engaged in a SSHRC-funded initiative with colleagues at Ryerson University, entitled Early Cinema Filmography of Ontario (  He has also published in the areas of documentary, stardom, and modernism/modernity. His most recent books are two co-edited anthologies, one exploring the connections between humour and animation, entitled Funny Pictures, and the other the published proceedings of the 2010 Domitor conference, Beyond the Screen. His current projects are an investigation of the origins of Hollywood, both as a filmmaking centre and a symbolic site, and the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to D.W. Griffith.

Professor Keil regularly teaches the Introduction to Film Study course, as well as courses investigating different aspects of American cinema, from filmmaking practices to distinct genres.  In addition, he has taught courses on early cinema, authorship, film and technology, film history, and how history has been represented on film.  At the graduate level, he has most recently offered courses on historiography and on film analysis. 


Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.A. University of Wisconsin-Madison
B.A. University of Toronto


Select Publications:


Early American Cinema in Transition:  Story, Style and Filmmaking, 1907-1913Madison, Wi.:  University of Wisconsin Press, 2001. 306 pp.



A Companion to D.W. Griffith. Wiley-Blackwell Companions to Film Directors. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2018. 592 pp.

Behind the Silver Screen: Editing and Special/Visual Effects. Co-edited with Kristen Whissel. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2016. 259 pp.

Beyond the Screen: Institutions, Networks and Publics of Early Cinema.  Co-edited with Marta Braun, Rob King, Paul Moore, and Louis Pelletier. Eastleigh: John Libbey Publishing, 2012. 336 pp. 

Funny Pictures: Animation and Comedy in Studio-Era Hollywood.  Co-edited with Daniel Goldmark.  Berkeley:  University of California Press, 2011. 313 pp.

Cinema of the 1910s:  Themes and Variations. Co-edited with Ben Singer. New Brunswick, N.J.:  Rutgers University Press, 2009. 278 pp.

American Cinema’s Transitional Era:  Audiences, Institutions, Practices.  Co-edited with Shelley Stamp.  Berkeley:  University of California Press, 2004.  371 pp.



“Leo Rosencrans, Movie-Struck Boy: A (Half-)Year in the Life of a Hollywood Extra.” Film History 26, 2 (2014), pp. 31-51.

“Narration in the Transitional Cinema:  The Historiographical Claims of the Unauthored Text.”  Cinémas, 21, 3, (Spring 2011), pp. 106-30.



"The Movies: The Transitional Era.” In American Literature in Transition, 1910-1920. Ed. Mark W. Van Wienen. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018, pp. 312-326.

“The Silent Screen, 1895-1927: Cecil B. DeMille Shapes the Director’s Role.” In Behind the Silver Screen: Directing. Ed. Virginia Wright Wexman. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2017, pp. 26-47.

“George Cukor and the Case of an Actor’s Director: Hepburn and/or Tracy in Little Women, The Actress, Keeper of the Flame, Adam’s Rib, and Pat and Mike.” In George Cukor: Hollywood Master. Ed. Murray Pomerance and R. Barton Palmer. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 107-23.

"American Documentary Finds Its Voice: Persuasion and Expression in The Plow That Broke the Plains and The City." In Documenting the Documentary: Close Readings of Documentary Film and Video. Second Edition. Edited by Barry K. Grant and Jeannette Sloniowski. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2014, pp. 103-21.

“Acting Like a Star:  Florence Turner, Picture Personality.”  In Theorizing Film Acting. Ed. Aaron Taylor.  New York:  Routledge, 2012, pp. 201-09. 

“D.W. Griffith and the Development of American Narrative Cinema.”  In The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film.  Ed. Cynthia Lucia, Arthur Simon, and Roy Grundmann.  Oxford:  Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2012, pp. 130-54.

“Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett:  The Performance is the Star.”  In Shining in Shadows:  Movie Stars of the 2000s.”  Ed. Murray Pomerance. New Brunswick, N.J.:  Rutgers University Press, 2011, pp. 182-99.

“Introduction:  What Makes These Pictures So Funny?” Co-authored with Daniel Goldmark. In Funny Pictures:  Animation and Comedy in Studio-Era Hollywood. Edited by Charlie Keil and Daniel Goldmark.  Berkeley:  University of California Press, 2011, pp. 1-11.

Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn:  Domesticated Mavericks.”  In What Dreams Were Made Of:  Movie Stars of the 1940s.  Edited by Sean Griffin. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2011, pp. 192-216.  

‘Studio Girls’:  Female Stars and the Logic of Brand Names.”  In Not So Silent:  Women in Cinema Before Sound.  Ed. Sofia Bull and Astrid Soderbergh Widding.  Stockholm:  Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2010, pp. 278-85.

“1913: Movies and the Beginning of a New Era.” In American Cinema of the 1910s:  Themes and Variations. Edited by Charlie Keil and Ben Singer. New Brunswick, N.J.:  Rutgers University Press, 2009, pp. 92-114.

Living Canada:  Selling the Nation Through Images.” Co-authored with Marta Braun.  In Early Cinema and the “National. Ed. Richard Abel, Giorgio Bertellini, and Rob King.  Eastleigh:  John Libbey Publishing, 2008, pp. 61-66.

‘All the Frame’s a Stage’: (Anti-)Theatricality and Cinematic Modernism.”  In Against Theatre:  Creative Destructions of the Modernist Stage.  Ed. Alan Ackerman and Martin Puchner.  New York:  Palgrave MacMillan, 2006, pp. 76-91.

Integrated Attractions:  Style and Spectatorship in Transitional Cinema.”  In The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded.  Ed. Wanda Streuven.  Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2006, pp. 193-203.

"Steel Engines and Cardboard Rockets: The Status of Fiction and Nonfiction in Early Cinema."  In F is for Phony: Fake Documentary and Truth’s Undoing.  Ed. Alexandra Juhasz and Jesse Lerner.  Minneapolis:  University of Minnesota Press, 2006, pp. 29-39.

“To Here from Modernity: Style, Historiography, and Transitional Cinema.” In American Cinema’s Transitional Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices.  Edited by Charlie Keil and Shelley Stamp.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004, pp. 51-66.

American Cinema in the 1990’s and Beyond:  Whose Country’s Filmmaking Is It Anyway?”. In The End of Cinema As We Know It:  American Film in the Nineties.  Ed. Jon Lewis.  New York:  New York University Press, 2001, pp. 53-60.



“Florence Turner: Her American Career.” Women Film Pioneers Project. Eds. Jane Gaines, Radha Vatsal and Monica Dall’Asta. Center for Digital Research and Scholarship. New York: Columbia University Libraries, 2013.

“Narration and Authorship in the Transitional Text: Griffith, Thanhouser, and Typicality.” On Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc. []. Linked as; available since March 2011.

“American Cinema, 1895-1915.”  Oxford Bibliographies Online.  Ed. Krin Gabbard.  Live in October 2011; for information, see