The City of Philadelphia has rich and diverse film and media histories and is home to pioneers and organizations that include Eadward Muybridge and his Animal Locomotion studies of 1886, The Wagner Free Institute of Science, Siegmund Lubin and the Lubin Manufacturing Company, The Philadelphia Colored Players, The Paul Robeson House, International House, Scribe Video Center, the BlackStar Film Festival, and Amos Vogel (founder of the experimental film society Cinema 16). 

The History of Art at Penn embraces the long history of projected, reproducible and moving images, and many members of the History of Art graduate group teach and do research in this realm, including Shira Brisman (Early Modern), André Dombrowski (19th century photography and print culture), Julie Nelson Davis (Japanese prints and cinema), Michael Leja (mass media, including print culture, photography and early cinema), Kevin Platt (Soviet cinema), Karen Redrobe (cinema, photography, video, film and media theory), Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw (North American and Latin American cinema, critical race theory), Kaja Silverman (photography and time-based images), and Liliane Weissberg (the Frankfurt school). Our students also work closely with the other core Cinema and Media Studies faculty: Peter Decherney (American film history, copyright and media policy), Meta Mazaj (Balkan Cinema, Global art cinema, Film Festivals), and Rahul Mukherjee (South Asian and African cinema and media; media ecology).   

Once students are enrolled in the PhD program at Penn, they may apply to the Graduate Certificate in Cinema Studies. Research resources include Penn’s extensive Muybridge archive, the film and photography holdings of the Penn Museum, the artists’ video collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the large film-related holdings of the Penn libraries, as well as the important film archives that lie within easy reach of Philadelphia, such as the Library of Congress, Anthology Film Archives, and MoMA. Along with regular presentations by filmmakers and scholars, Penn and Philadelphia offer graduate students a variety of ongoing intellectual and cultural opportunities to support their work, including those provided by the Cinema Studies colloquium, where faculty and students exchange work-in-progress.