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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of English Language and Literature

Faculty and Staff Directory

Susan Courtney

Film and Media Studies Program
Department of English Language and Literature

Phone Number: (803) 777-3265
Office: HUO 505


PhD, Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley

Areas of Specialization 

   U.S. screen cultures (from Hollywood to home movies)
   • cultural formations of race, gender, region & nation
   American studies

Recently Taught Courses 

   Introduction to Film and Media Studies
   • Film and Media History
   • Mediating Ferguson, U.S.A.: 1915-2015
   • The South on Screen

Professional Accolades 

   • Two Thumbs Up Award, Office of Student Disability Services, University of South Carolina, 2016
   • Research Professorship, Department of English, University of South Carolina, 2012
   • Obert C. and Grace A. Tanner Visiting Research Fellow, Tanner Humanities Center, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, 2010-11
   • Provost’s Arts and Humanities Grant, University of South Carolina, 2010
   • Associate Professor Professional Development Award, College of Arts and Sciences, USC, 2009
   • Josephine Abney Award, Women’s Studies Program, University of South Carolina, 2005
   • Outstanding Professor Award, NADA International Student Residence, USC, 2000

Current Research Projects 

My research investigates historical relationships between popular conceptions of identity (especially race, gender, region, and nation) and pervasive forms of moving image culture. My most recent book, Split Screen Nation, proposes that our visions of the American West and the American South must be thought in relation to one another if we are to fully understand the marks both have left on popular ways of imagining the U.S. Analyzing an eclectic range of films and related screen media from the decades following World War II, the book argues that conflicted sentiments about the nation’s most paradoxical narratives—e.g., “land of the free”/land of slavery, conquest, and segregation—were mediated by an implicit, and at times explicit, opposition between the screen West and the screen South. Split Screen Nation reveals this opposition to have been unstable, dynamic, and dramatically shifting in the postwar era, and in ways that have marked popular ways of knowing and feeling the U.S. ever since. To understand this history, the book investigates appearances of the West and the South across a diverse field of U.S. screen culture, including Hollywood cinema, television, educational and corporate films, home movies, and military and civil defense films.

Selected Publications 

   • Split Screen Nation: Moving Images of the American West and South. (Oxford University Press)
   • Hollywood Fantasies of Miscegenation: Spectacular Narratives of Gender and Race, 1903-1967 (Princeton University Press)

   • “Framing the Bomb in the West: the View from Lookout Mountain” in Haidee Wasson and Lee Grieveson, eds., Cinema and the American Military (University of California Press, forthcoming)
   • “Mediating Ferguson in Columbia, SC,” Flow: A Critical Forum on Television and Media Culture, vol. 24, no. 2, 2016
   • "Ripping the Portieres at the Seams: Lessons from Streetcar on Gone with the Wind" in J. E. Smyth, ed., American Historical Cinema in the Studio Era (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)
   • "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner with Eldridge Cleaver and the Supreme Court" in Daniel Bernardi, ed., The Persistence of Whiteness (Routledge, 2008)

Recent Presentations 

   • “The Sounds and Silences of Operation A-Bomb (1952),” Orphan Film Symposium, Library of Congress, Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, Culpeper, Virginia, April 7, 2016
   • “Expanding Views of a Filmic Proving Ground,” Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Montreal, March 26, 2015
   • “Split Screen Nation: Vernacular Screen Forms of the West, the South, and the U.S.A.” When the West/ern Meets the South/ern, Université de Paris-Sorbonne and Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, April 19, 2013
   • “Midcentury Screen Maps: From Bierstadt to Barstow via Greyhound,” Hidden Cinema of the Southwest and Mexico, University of Arizona, Tucson, February 26, 2011