Memorial for Gilberto Perez
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
The Society for Cinema and Media Studies mourns the untimely passing of Gilberto Perez (1943-2015). Known to his friends as Gil, at the time of his death Professor Perez was the Noble Foundation Chair in Art and Cultural History at Sarah Lawrence College, where he had taught courses in film history since 1983. Previously, he taught at William Paterson University, Princeton, Harvard, and the University of Missouri. Professor Perez, who was born in Havana, Cuba, earned a BA degree from MIT and an MA from Princeton University. Trained in engineering, math, and physics, he was nevertheless inspired by the film criticism of fellow Cuban author Guillermo Cabrera Infante to begin publishing his own essays on film as early as 1967. His lifelong cinephilia eventually led him to redefine his professional identity into a career as a film scholar and teacher.
Gilberto Perez was perhaps best known for his highly original and wide-ranging book The Material Ghost: Films and Their Medium, published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 1998: in 2007, an international poll of film scholars and critics assembled by the online journal Screening the Past identified the book as the most important contribution to the field of film studies in the previous decade, tied alongside Jean-Luc Godard’s Historie(s) du Cinema. Professor Perez’s many articles and reviews appeared in The London Review of Books, Raritan, The Yale Review, The Nation, Film Comment, and Sight and Sound, among other publications, often selected to address general as well as academic readers. At the time of his death he was close to completing The Eloquent Screen, a study of film rhetoric that awaits publication.
Professor Perez’s career was marked by many honors and awards, including a Noble fellowship for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts at the Museum of Modern Art, a Mellon Faculty fellowship at Harvard University, and the Weiner Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities at the University of Missouri. A number of personal tributes to Professor Perez, an especially admired and beloved teacher, mentor, and colleague, can be found at this site on the Sarah Lawrence College website: https://www.sarahlawrence.edu/gilberto-perez/