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Andrew Johnston

Assoc Professor

CRDM Director

Department of English

Tompkins Hall 230


I am an Associate Professor in the Department of English and teach in the Film Studies Program as well as the PhD program in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media. My research and teaching areas include film history and theory, animation, avant-garde film, color aesthetics, media archaeology, and areas of the digital humanities such as the history of computational technologies and digital archives. My book, Pulses of Abstraction: Episodes from a History of Animation (University of Minnesota Press, 2020), is a theoretical and historical investigation of abstract animation in cinema and computational media from the 1950s through the 1970s. Highlighting a rich array of graphic techniques, such as etching directly onto the filmstrip, generating rapid, discontinuous montage sequences, or using digital vector displays and programming technologies, I argue that this aesthetic explores the parameters and contours of an expanded media landscape while offering the material out of which a more inclusive, flexible, and dynamic account of cinema can be built. I am also currently writing a series of articles about the historical development of Computer-Generated Imagery from the 1960s through the 1980s and methods of archiving and transcoding these works on contemporary platforms.

Research Publications

Pulses of Abstraction: Episodes from a History of Animation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2020.

“The Rise of Computer-Generated Imagery (1965-1989).” Animation: Behind the Silver Screen. Ed. Scott Curtis. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2019.

“Models of Code and the Digital Architecture of Time.” Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture 37.3 (Fall 2015). Special issue on Science and Animation. Eds. Kirsten Ostherr and Olivia Banner.

“Signatures of Motion: Len Lye’s Scratch Films and the Energy of the Line.” Animating Film Theory. Ed. Karen Beckman. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014.

“The Color of Prometheus: Thomas Wilfred’s Lumia and the Projection of Transcendence.” Color and the Moving Image. Eds. Sarah Street, Simon Brown and Elizabeth Watkins. American Film Institute Series. New York, London: Routledge, 2013.


Ph.D. Cinema and Media Studies University of Chicago 2011

M.A. American Studies University of Maryland at College Park 2004

B.A. English and American Studies College of William and Mary 2001