The entrance to the Department of History’s office in Sidney Smith Hall

Brian Jacobson

Assistant Professor

Office Location:  Innis College, Rm 232


Research and Teaching:

Brian R. Jacobson is a historian of film and modern visual culture. His research spans the history and theory of moving image media, the history and philosophy of technology, environmental history, and art and architectural history. He is the author of Studios Before the System: Architecture, Technology, and the Emergence of Cinematic Space (Columbia University Press, Film and Culture Series, 2015), a book that situates the world’s first film studios in the architectural and technological developments of urban industrial modernity and argues that cinema should be understood as a critical component of what historians of technology have termed the “human-built world.” Professor Jacobson’s research has been supported by numerous grants and fellowships, including a Fulbright Fellowship to France and several fellowships from the Social Science Research Council. He is currently working on a series of projects about industrial and corporate media, including French industrial and agricultural films and film festivals and a monograph that focuses on cinema’s longstanding role in the politics, industrial processes, and public perception of global energy.

Professor Jacobson teaches courses about film history and historiography, cinema and architecture, ecocinema, modern visual culture, and film/media technologies.

Select Publications:


Studios Before the System: Architecture, Technology, and the Emergence of Cinematic Space (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015)

Articles in Academic Journals

“Mid-Century Rural Modern: French Agricultural Cinema and the Art of Persuasion,” Screen (forthcoming)

Ex Machina in the Garden” Film Quarterly 69, no. 4 (Summer 2016), 23-34.

“Infrastructural Affinity: Film Technology and the Built Environment in New York circa 1900,” Framework 57, No. 1 (Spring 2016), 7-31.

“Fantastic Functionality: Studio Architecture and the Visual Rhetoric of Early Hollywood,” Film History 26, no. 2 (2014), 52-81.

“Infrastructure and Intermediality: Network Archaeology at Gaumont’s Cité Elgé,” Amodern: A Journal on Media, Culture, and Poetics 2 (2013).

“The Black Maria: Film Studio, Film Technology (Cinema and the History of Technology),” History and Technology 27.2 (2011), 233-241.

“The ‘imponderable fluidity’ of modernity: Georges Méliès and the architectural origins of cinema,” Early Popular Visual Culture 8, no. 2 (May 2010), 189-207.

“A Business Without a Future?: The Parisian Vidéo-Club, Past and Present,” (with Joshua Neves). Media Fields Journal: Critical Explorations in Media and Space, Issue 1 (December 2010).

“Introduction: Deaths of Cinema” (w/Christopher Hanson & Veronica Paredes). Spectator 27 (2007): 5-8.

Articles in Books

“Found Memories of Film History: Industry in a Post-Industrial World; Cinema in a Post-Filmic Age,” in Paul Flaig and Katherine Groo, eds. New Silent Cinema (New York: AFI/Routledge, 2015), 243-262.

“Film, Technology, and Imperialism at the Pan-American Exposition, 1901,” in Laura Hollengreen, Celia Pearce, Rebecca Rouse, and Bobby Schweizer, eds. Meet Me at the Fair: A World’s Fair Reader (ETC/Carnegie Mellon Press, 2014), 349-362.

Book Reviews

Cinematic Appeals: The Experience of New Movie Technologies. Ariel Rogers. Columbia University Press, 2013. Technology and Culture 56, no. 2 (April 2015), 558-560.

The Cinematic Footprint: Lights, Camera, Natural Resources. Nadia Bozak. Rutgers University Press, 2011. Technology and Culture 54, no. 2 (April 2013), 424-426.

Chromatic Cinema: A History of Screen Color. Richard Misek. Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. Technology and Culture 53, no. 3 (July 2012), 715-717.

 “Film Analysis After Film,” Review of Framed Time: Towards a Postfilmic Cinema. Garrett Stewart. University of Chicago Press, 2007. Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture 32.2 (2010).

An Amorous History of the Silver Screen: Shanghai Cinema, 1896-1937. Zhang Zhen. University of Chicago Press, 2005. Film International #26, 5:2 (April 2007), 81-82.

Authored Publications:


  • PhD, University of Southern California
  • SM, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • BS, Appalachian State University
Photo of Brian Jacobson