Colloquium with Antonia Lant: 'Reading the Sphinx: Iconographies of Race, 1890s-1930s'


Wednesday, January 30, 2019, 12:00pm


Thompson Room, Barker Center, 12 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA
Antonia Lant

Antonia Lant recently stepped down as Chair of Cinema Studies at New York University.   She works on problems of film style and interpretation, with special emphasis on women’s work in filmmaking, theories of art history that developed in tandem with the arrival of cinema, and questions of racial signification.  Lant’s first book, Blackout: Reinventing Women for Wartime British Cinema (1991), studied the impact of wartime privations on the film screen, and particularly the role that womanhood played in representing the nation in crisis.  Her hefty compendium, Red Velvet Seat: Women’s Writings on the First Fifty Years of Cinema (2007), edited and interpreted women’s intercessions in film culture. Her much-cited article “Haptical Cinema” drew on late nineteenth century theories of art to understand the novel and intricate spatial properties of early cinema.  The essay is one of several that examine silent cinema’s fascination with things Egyptian. As a Cohen Fellow, Lant is asking “Whose Egyptomania?,” the title of her book about the role of Ancient Egypt in racial politics since 1900.  

From 2011 to 2014, Lant was international advisor for “Texture Matters: The Optical and Haptical in Media,” a research project based at the University of Vienna and funded by an Austrian Scientific Research Foundation Grant (FWF).

She trained in Fine Arts at Leeds University, England, held a Junior Research Fellowship at Oxford University where she researched the Impressionist print collections at the Ashmolean Museum, and earned her PhD in History of Art at Yale University.  She has taught at the Open University, Harvard University, and at the University of Vienna. 

As a historian, Lant maintains a strong commitment to the safeguarding of cultural documents.  In this capacity, she set up the NYU Cinema Studies’ Department’s Masters’ degree in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation, as its Founding Director.   She has been a member of the National Film Preservation Board since 2012.

In Fall 2018, Lant was a Fellow at the Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie (IKKM), Bauhaus-Universität, Weimar, Germany, where she participated in their 2018 research theme, “Reproduction/ Duplication in Media.”

As a Cohen fellow for Spring 2019, she will work on Ancient Egypt and Race in American Visual Culture (1895-1939).