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Cinema Faculty

Our faculty are a unique blend of researchers, educators and professionals who are proven experts in their fields. 

Cade Bursell, Professor


Cade Bursell’s creative work engages both experimental processes and a socially engaged media arts practice with a focus on human rights and environmental issues, and grounded in an understanding of the relationship between medium and meaning. Her interests include queer studies, women’s studies, environmental and animal studies and Buddhist philosophy. Her creative practice is guided by a set of ethical principles that involves a deep regard, concern and recognition of the complex interdependence of all forms of life.

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Cade Bursell

Office: Northwest Annex B212

Pirooz Kalayeh, Assistant Professor of Screenwriting and Film Production


Pirooz Kalayeh loves combining his multifaceted experiences as an artist, musician, writer, actor, and director to create innovations in storytelling. His films have been featured in national publications and screened theatrically via distributors, streaming providers, and festivals and museums around the world, including Beloit International, L.A. Weekly, Indiewire, New Faces New Voices, Village Voice, Buddhist Film Festival Europe, Vice, The Johann Jacobs Museum, and many others. 

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Pirooz Kalayeh

Office: Comm Room 1050C
Phone: 618-453-2208

Jyotsna Kapur, Professor, Director Honors Program


Jyotsna Kapur is a Professor of Cinema and Media Studies, who is also cross-appointed with Sociology. Her research and teaching interests include: Marxist-feminist theory of media arts and culture; The politics of labor, class, race, and sexuality in neoliberalism; contemporary Indian media culture; History and theory of the documentary idea especially its redefinations in contemporary practices and digital culture; Third Cinema; and Global children's media culture.

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Jyotsna Kapur

Office: COMM 1121G

Walter Metz, Professor


Walter Metz is a Professor of Film Studies who teaches film, television, theatre, and photography history, theory and criticism. As a researcher, Walter is interested in the relationship between popular media forms, such as the television sitcom and the Hollywood blockbuster film, and high, canonical literature. His book on Gilligan's Island was published by Wayne State University Press in March 2012. He is currently writing a manuscript about Dr. Seuss and the animated films made at Pixar Studios.

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Walter Metz

Phone: 618-453-2298
Office: COMM 1112

Heather M. O'Brien, Assistant Professor


Heather M. O'Brien is an artist, filmmaker, and writer. Her work builds encounters with familial archives, constructs of nationhood, and the illusion of accurate memory. Interests include expanded cinema, photographic histories, and the contemporary essay film.

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Heather M. O'Brien

Office: Northwest Annex B 214

Mike Phillips, Clinical Assistant Professor


Mike Phillips studies and teaches American and transnational popular culture, specializing in film genre, historical fiction, African American cinema, and intermediality. He holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, with Certificates in Film Studies and American Studies, from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). His work has appeared in Film & History Alphaville Journal of Film & Media Studies Orbit: A Journal of American Literature, and the anthology Documenting the Black Experience. He previously taught film and media studies at Brooklyn College, Purchase College, and the College of Staten Island, as well as in CUNY's entry-to-college program for members of the SEIU labor union.

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Mike Phillips

Phone: 618-453-2223
Office: COMM 2221

Robert Spahr, Interim Director of the School of Media Arts, Associate Professor

Robert Spahr is a visual artist and educator who produces computational art using generative processes and genetic algorithms; digital and analog images; objects; live art and time-based media.

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Robert Spahr

Office: Northwest Annex 213B

Hong Zhou, Associate Professor


Hong is interested in fictional narrative filmmaking. His recent work includes "Night Train", a story about two strangers' encounters in a subway, "She Wears Yellow", a study of fictional characters, and "Sarah and Liz", a story about two sisters' adventures into the wildness. Initially influenced by surrealist painting and early experimental films, Hong's work explores the conflict and interplay between conscious and subconscious as narrative force in storytelling. Having recently worked as cinematographer on a new HD feature film, Hong is excited about the new creative possibilities of HD as a compelling narrative medium, and is planning on shooting his next project using the latest digital cinema technology.

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Hong Zhou

Office: COMM 1121H

School of Media Arts | College of Arts and Media | 618-536-7555 |