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Oliver Gaycken

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Associate Professor, English
School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

(301) 405-8529

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Research Expertise

Comparative Literature
Film Studies and Cultural Studies
Literature and Science

Oliver Gaycken received his BA in English from Princeton University and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He previously has taught at York University (Toronto) and Temple University. His teaching interests include silent-era cinema history, the history of popular science, and the links between scientific and experimental cinema. He has published on the discovery of the ophthalmoscope, the flourishing of the popular science film in France at the turn of the 1910s, the figure of the supercriminal in Louis Feuillade's serial films, and the surrealist fascination with popular scientific images. His book Devices of Curiosity: Early Cinema and Popular Science, appeared with Oxford University Press in the spring of 2015.

Publications

Devices of Curiosity: Early Cinema & Popular Science

Devices of Curiosity excavates a largely unknown genre of early cinema, the popular-science film.

English

Lead: Oliver Gaycken
Dates:
Primarily a work of cinema history, it also draws on the insights of the history of science. Beginning around 1903, a variety of producers made films about scientific topics for general audiences, inspired by a vision of cinema as an educational medium. This book traces the development of popular-science films over the first half of the silent era, from its beginnings in England to its flourishing in France around 1910.

Devices of Curiosity: Early Cinema & Popular Science

An assessment of the role of early science films in shaping debates about scientific discovery, commercial entertainment, innovations in education, and intertextual cultural production, Gaycken considers 300 films and offers a stylistic analysis.

English

Lead: Oliver Gaycken
Dates:

A comprehensive assessment of the role of early science films in shaping debates about scientific discovery, commercial entertainment, innovations in education, and intertexual cultural production, Gaycken considers 300 films and offers a comparative stylistic analysis that establishes both the unique formal properties of the genre as well as the antecedent sources upon which it drew. The volume features case studies on British and French natural history filmmaking, American distribution, and French crime melodramas.