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In Memoriam
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In Memoriam


Peter Bondanella

It is with great sadness that the Society for Cinema and Media Studies notes the death of Peter Bondanella on May 28, 2017. Bondanella is perhaps best known for his foundational scholarship on Italian cinema and culture and for his deep commitment to undergraduate teaching and graduate mentoring.

Bondanella earned a BA in French and Political Science from Davidson College before receiving an MA in Political Science at Stanford and a Ph.D. in Comparative literature at the University of Oregon. While at Oregon, Bondanella taught himself Italian by translating literary works that would be central to his dissertation. He received an NEH award that allowed early career immersion experiences leading to his exceptionally detailed notes on Italian cinema which contributed to work such as Federico Fellini: Essays in Criticism (1978) and the acclaimed Italian Cinema: From Neorealism to the Present (1983). Other scholarship by Bondanella includes, in part, The Films of Roberto Rossellini (1993), Umberto Eco and the Open Text: Semiotics, Fiction, Popular Culture (1997), and Hollywood Italians: Dagos, Palookas, Romeos, Wise Guys, and Sopranos (2004). His volume on Italian Cinema won the American Association of Italian Studies President's Award and saw multiple updated editions with over fifty printings "before," as Gino Moliterno notes, "being definitively recast in 2009 as the magisterial 700-page A History of Italian Cinema." The Cinema of Federico Fellini featured a foreword by Fellini himself and was awarded the Giovanni Agnelli Foundation Prize for Best Book in Italian Studies. Bondanella's The Eternal City: Roman Images in the Modern World (1987) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. During his career, Bondanella was awarded fellowships from the ACLS and NEH.

Bondanella taught at Wayne State University upon completion of his Ph.D. He joined the Indiana University faculty in Bloomington in 1972. At Indiana, Bondanella taught in the departments of Comparative Literature, Film Studies, Italian, and West European Studies. He chaired West European Studies for ten years. He is credited with founding Indiana's summer program in Florence which enabled student immersion in Italian language and culture. Bondanella served as President of the American Association for Italian Studies from 1984 to 1987. He was elected as a Fellow of the European Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. He was Mellon Visiting Professor at Tulane University in 2001. Bondanella retired from Indiana University in 2007.

Please see the following web-pages for additional tributes and details:


David Pendleton

We met him in Los Angeles, over the period of the late 80s and early 90s. Tall, handsome, more than a little shambolic, with a gorgeous rich voice, David quickly won his way into the fabric of all of our lives. His smile was warm and his infectious giggle was always just below the surface, even with the headiest of topics. David's love of cinema was impossible to separate from his love of life, people, ideas, books, and music. With his erudition and razor-sharp wit, he became a huge part of our experience of LA, of cinema, and of queer culture. As Bishnupriya Ghosh put it, he was for so many of us an "orienting presence" in clubs and bars and in the halls of academia.

On November 6, we lost him, at the ridiculously young age of 53. David was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 but, up until his death, he continued his job as programmer at the Harvard Film Archive, where he had worked since 2007 after more than a decade at the UCLA Film Archive. A few months after his diagnosis, he programmed the Flaherty Film Seminar. Anyone who saw a program that David curated, watched him introduce a film, read his program notes or saw him interview a filmmaker will know that all of us have lost a brilliant mind and a most generous cinephile. He was someone who truly found his métier in bringing films to publics, giving them context, and teaching us why we should care about them. In the days that followed his death, the outpouring of messages on Facebook and to his family included many from filmmakers whom David had programmed over the years. It was intensely moving, but not surprising, to read about how those who he had met professionally or even occasionally immediately recognized the genuine humanity and serious commitment to cinema and people that characterized our beloved friend.

David studied theater and screenwriting at UCLA, before he moved over to an MA/PhD in Critical Studies in Film and Television, prompted by his love of film theory, history and aesthetics. He started working at the UCLA Film and Television Archive while writing his dissertation, an innovative consideration of what he called the "homoexoticism" that linked the films of F.W. Murnau, Sergei Eisenstein, and Pier Paolo Pasolini. Tragically, "The Eye of Desire: Homoeroticism, Exoticism, Cinema" (2006) hasn't yet reached the audience it deserves, though longtime SCMS members will remember his incisive presentations from many a yearly conference.  He was one of the founding members of the Queer Caucus of SCMS and contributed with his lectures and publications to the development of queer cinema studies. His brilliant and hilarious autobiographical reflection on cinephilia and spectatorship in Wide Angle, "My Mother, the Cinema," (1993) invites Roland Barthes, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Marcel Proust, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and others to join him in the cinema: "As the lights go down, I notice Pier Paolo Pasolini slip into a seat next to Roland Barthes. They're both with their mothers; it looks like a double date." He kept publishing over the years that he programmed, with essays in Discourse, Strategies and Cineaste and, at the time of his death, was working with long-time friend Edward O'Neill on a book about queer theory and cinephilia.

His theoretical interests were intricately bound up with his programming, which he considered an intellectual pursuit on par with pedagogy and writing. For David, film programming demanded responsibility to a public and a commitment to creating a world, one made possible by a shared experience and belief in the transformative potential of cinema. In 2012 he gave a talk at UC Santa Cruz entitled "Reasons to Believe in This world, or, Responsibilities of a Film Programmer" and, in introducing it, explained that he was juxtaposing a reference to Deleuze's Cinema 2: The Time Image with another to Robin Wood's essay "Responsibilities of a Gay Film Critic."

Discussing what the Deleuze reference meant to him in terms of his practice, David offered, "I too feel the need to believe in the world. I think that the need to believe in the world is also one of the key political questions of our day." The films and filmmakers he championed (and they were truly international and diverse, as Harvard's archived programs will show) all gave him a way of rethinking his relationship with the world. His perspectives on these films and filmmakers gave-and will continue to give us-the means for imagining new, queerer, more politically enabling ways of inhabiting the world he left us with. David showed us how aesthetics matter to politics, how a passion for cinema can be a belief in the world. Remembering his love for cinema, we remember him, with love.


Hannah Frank

SCMS mourns the passing of one of our young members, Hannah Frank.  Her mentor, Tom Gunning, offers this tribute:

It is always difficult to mark the passing of our colleagues, to acknowledge that those we have loved and learned from are no longer with us. Usually this act of mourning includes a list of their achievements and the legacy left behind after a long career and life.  It is all the more difficult for me, and for those who knew her, to mark the death of our dear friend Hannah Frank because her life, already so rich in achievement for one so young, but richer still in promise, was curtailed so suddenly, unexpectedly and so prematurely this August. Our field has been robbed of one of its rising stars, one of its most original and inquisitive minds. Beyond this we have lost a spirit marked not only by her genius but her generosity, not only her tireless research, passionate in pursuit of details, but her startling originality, probing into fundamental questions. Hannah's life and work was imbued with sparkling wit, a sense of humor and delight. She embodied animation in every sense of the word.

Hannah Frank was my student, but every one who taught her, at Yale, Iowa and Chicago, experienced that essence of true education -- learning from your students. Her focus was on the history and technology of animation, a passion she possessed from childhood (she once posted something she wrote at an astonishingly young age of her desire to study the evolution of cartoons).  But as deeply as she penetrated into her topic her interests were broad and varied.  Within animation she could cover everything from Disney to Len Lye, from Fleischer to Breer, from Soviet animation to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Speaking as someone with a deep interest in animation but nothing like Hannah's erudition, I found she would sweetly correct my generalizations, pointing out on Facebook after I did a brief presentation on Bacall to Arms, that the wonderful Warner Brothers tribute to movie-going actually recycled an early WB cartoon I had never heard of.  But if Hannah had the chops to challenge any buff, she was never just a fan.

What other scholar of studio animation could pull off a detour from a discussion of studio practices into details of the paper and handwriting of Emily Dickinson's poems?  This section of her dissertation was more than a display of recherché knowledge, however. Through it Hannah opened the issue of the importance of the materiality and labor that goes into all artwork and which can be obscured in reproduction.   Hannah probed animation, examining the individual cells and sketches in order to uncover the anonymous labor that went into them. Like art historian Michael Camille uncovering the grotesques in the marginalia of medieval manuscripts, Hannah found the traces of reuse, the moments of pentimento, left behind by the inkers or in-betweeners never meant to be visible, but brought to light by her caring eye. She could subject all films to this sort of scrutiny. I remember her demonstrating that a close-up of Claudette Colbert in Sirk's Sleep, My Love had actually been flipped in printing in order to avoid the side of the actress' profile that she hated, and yet preserve an eyeline match.

Hannah's Facebook page was filled with little discoveries, demonstrations and witty comments along with statement of political commitment (like her recent post on removing confederate monuments).  They were alas ephemeral and of course my grief now is compounded by the sense that much that she knew will never make it into print, although one hopes her brilliant dissertation will become a book.  But even after only her first year of full time teaching at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, it is clear she touched students through her teaching as much as her writing will continue to inspire us. Her humor was subtle, but could be biting, yet also generous and her kindness and consideration shone from her eyes and smile.  No theodicy, no philosophy can reconcile me, or any of us, to this loss.  In the midst of it we realize what a unique gift it had been to have her with us, even briefly.

 Brian Henderson







 Chuck Kleinhans

David Lavery

(August 27, 1949 - August 30, 2016)

It is with sadness that SCMS notes the August 2016 passing of David Lavery.

Professor Lavery was faculty in the English Department at Middle Tennessee State University where he had been Chair and Director of Graduate Studies. Prior to his appointment at MTSU (1993-present),  Dr. Lavery held appointments at the University of Memphis, at Northern Kentucky University, and several visiting appointments, including a post at East China Normal University in Shanghai.

Lavery was a dedicated mentor, generous editor, and prolific scholar. His books include-among many others--works on television fandom, authorship, genre, "cult" series, Joss Whedon, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, and the forthcoming Finale: Considering the Ends of Television Shows (Syracuse University Press), edited with Douglas Howard and David Bianculli.


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