Scott Curtis studies the history of film, especially early and silent-era cinema. He is particularly interested in how experts in science, medicine, and education use motion picture technology as a research tool or teaching aid. His book on this topic, The Shape of Spectatorship: Art, Science, and Early Cinema in Germany (Columbia University Press, 2015), explores the collision between expert vision and moving images in science, medicine, education, and aesthetics.

He has published extensively on the use of motion pictures in a variety of scientific fields, such as biology, physics, psychology, and medicine. He has also written on more traditional topics in film history, especially early cinema (the industry before 1915) and animation. He is the founder of Block Cinema, former co-chair of Chicago Film Seminar, and former President of Domitor, the international society for the study of early cinema. Curtis received a BA from the University of Oregon and an MA and PhD from the University of Iowa.


  • Science, medicine, and cinema
  • Animation history and theory
  • Early cinema and silent film history (especially American and German)


  • MIT 220: Analyzing Media Texts
  • MIT 312: History of Film
  • MIT 322: History of Animation
  • MIT 398: Theories of the Moving Image



The Shape of Spectatorship: Art, Science, and Early Cinema in Germany. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.

Animation (Series: Behind the Silver Screen). Edited by Scott Curtis. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2019. 

The Image in Early Cinema: Form and Material. Edited by Scott Curtis, Philippe Gauthier, Tom Gunning, and Joshua Yumibe. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2018.

Performing New Media, 1890-1915. Edited by Kaveh Askari, Scott Curtis, Frank Gray, Louis Pelletier, Tami Williams, and Joshua Yumibe. New Barnet, U.K.: Libbey, 2014.



Animated Images in a Media History of Science.” Journal of Cinema and Media Studies 61, no. 1 (Fall 2021): 147-152.

Between Photography and Film: Early Uses of Medical Cinematography.” REMEDIA: The History of Medicine in Dialogue with Its Present. (19 January 2016).

(with Robert Lue): “Bridging Science, Art, and the History of Visualization: A Dialogue between Scott Curtis and Robert Lue.” Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture 37, no. 3 (Fall 2015): 193-206.

Science Lessons.” Film History 25, no. 1-2 (2013): 45–54.

Tangible as Tissue: Arnold Gesell, Infant Behavior, and Film Analysis.” Science in Context 24, no. 3 (2011): 417-442.

Images of Efficiency: The Films of Frank B. Gilbreth.” In Films that Work: Industrial Film and the Productivity of Media, edited by Vinzenz Hediger and Patrick Vonderau. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2009. 85-99.

Still/Moving: Digital Imaging and Medical Hermeneutics.” In Memory Bytes: History, Technology, and Digital Culture, edited by Lauren Rabinovitz and Abraham Geil. Duke University Press, 2004. 218-254.



Tex Avery’s Prison House of Animation, or Humor and Boredom in Studio Cartoons.” In Funny Pictures: Animation and Comedy in Studio-Era Hollywood, edited by Daniel Goldmark and Charlie Keil, 211-227. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. 

A House Divided: The MPPC in Transition.” In American Cinema’s Transitional Era, edited by Charlie Keil and Shelley Stamp. University of California Press, 2004. 239-264. 

The Making of Rear Window.” In Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, edited by John Belton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. 21-56.


Fulbright U. S. Scholar Grant, University of Innsbruck, Austria, March – June 2013.

Visiting Fellow, Bauhaus-Universität, Weimar, Germany, Spring 2011.