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, including animation; early German film and theory; industrial film; the Motion Picture Patents Company; film sound; Alfred Hitchcock; and Douglas Fairbanks. He has held posts as the medical photographer for Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, Oregon; the research archivist for the Special Collections Department of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library; and a lecturer for the Cinema and Media Studies program of the University of Southern California. He is also 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.


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


Curtis, S., Gauthier, P., Gunning, T., and Yumibe, J. (Eds.) (2018) The Image in Early Cinema: Form and Material. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Curtis, S. (2018). Grob und glatt. Über eine relationale Theorie des wissenschaftlichen Animationsbildes. In Feiersinger, L. (Ed.)  Scientific Fiction: Inszenierungen der Wissenschaft zwischen Film, Fakt und Fiktion (30-40). Berlin and Boston: Walter de Gruyter. 

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

Curtis, S. and Lue, R. (2015). 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 (3): 193-206.

Curtis, S. (2015). Objectivity in Early Scientific and Medical Film Viewing. In Quintana, A. and Pons, J. (Eds.)  Objectivity and the Effects of Truth: Early Cinema and the Realist Tradition (33-40). Girona, Spain: Fundació Museu del Cinema/Ajuntament de Girona.

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

Askari, K., Curtis, S. (lead editor), Gray, F., Pelletier, L., Williams, T., & Yumibe, J. (Eds.) (2014).  Performing New Media, 1890-1915. London and Bloomington: John Libbey/Indiana University Press.

Curtis, S. (2013). Science Lessons.  Film History 25.1-2: 45–54.

Curtis, S. (2012). Dissecting the Medical Training Film. In Braun, M., Keil, C., King, R., Moore, P., & Pelletier, L. (Eds.)  Beyond the Screen: Institutions, Networks and Publics of Early Cinema (161-167). London and Bloomington: John Libbey/Indiana University Press.

Curtis, S. (2012). Photography and Medical Observation. In Anderson, N., & Dietrich, M. R. (Eds.),   The Educated Eye: Visual Culture and Pedagogy in the Life Sciences (68-93). Hanover, N.H.: Dartmouth College Press.

Curtis, S. (2011). Tangible as Tissue: Arnold Gesell, Infant Behavior, and Film Analysis.  Science in Context 24(3): 417-442.


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

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