Researcher

Dr Lisa Trahair

My Expertise

Philosophy of comedy

Films of Buster Keaton

Comedian Comedy

Psychoanalytic Film Theory

Deleuzian Cinema

Poststructuralist aesthetics

Film and Philosophy

Keywords

Fields of Research (FoR)

Cinema studies, Poststructuralism, Psychoanalytic philosophy, Aesthetics, Cinema Studies, Film, Television and Digital Media, Psychoanalytic Philosophy

Biography

Lisa Trahair is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies.

 

Shortly before completing my PhD at the University of Sydney, I was appointed Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland (1996) and one year later took the position of (interdisciplinary) Co-ordinator of Film Studies for the Faculty of Arts. In 1999, I returned to Sydney to UNSW where I currently teach and research.

 

My primary research focus is on how popular and...view more

Lisa Trahair is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies.

 

Shortly before completing my PhD at the University of Sydney, I was appointed Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland (1996) and one year later took the position of (interdisciplinary) Co-ordinator of Film Studies for the Faculty of Arts. In 1999, I returned to Sydney to UNSW where I currently teach and research.

 

My primary research focus is on how popular and avant-garde artefacts make use of the image both as a source of aesthetic pleasure and to contemplate, and thus formulate ideas about, reality. My area of expertise is film studies and within that film comedy and film and philosophy. My book The Comedy of Philosophy: Sense and Nonsense in Early Cinematic Slapstick was published by SUNY in 2007. I continue to publish in the areas of comic performance, contemporary European cinema, and film and philosophy. Forthcoming projects include Understanding Cinematic Thinking: Film-Philosophy in Bresson, von Trier and Haneke, co-written with Gregory Flaxman and Robert Sinnerbrink, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, (expected publication in 2019) and Second Nature: Comic Performance and Philosophy, co-edited with Josephine Gray, Rowman & Littlefield, 2020. In the latter part of 2019 I will be visiting scholar at the University of Amsterdam.

 

As well as being the recipient of many Faculty research grants, I have been the first chief investigator on two interdisciplinary ARC Discovery projects. The first of these grants (DP0450596) was with Professor Jim Davis, now in Theatre Studies at Warwick University, for the project “The Framing and Staging of Comic Performance in the Nineteenth and Early 20th Centuries”. The second (DP1092889) was an interdisciplinary collaboration with Assoc. Professor Robert Sinnerbrink (Philosophy, Macquarie University) and Associate Professor Gregory Flaxman (Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina) entitled “Film as Philosophy: Understanding Cinematic Thinking”. In 2009 I was awarded a UNSW Vice-Chancellor’s Goldstar Award ($30,000) for this project. I have also received grants in the past from the University of Sydney and the NSW Film and Television Office.

 

With the second ARC Grant I co-founded the Cinematic Thinking Network (currently over 100 members) and hosted 5 workshops on related topics at UNSW. These involved contributions from both Australian and international scholars from post-graduate level to eminent professors. Two of these workshops resulted in special issues of international journals co-edited by me and Robert Sinnerbrink: Cinema and/as Ethics, Substance 45:3, 2016; Special Dossier: Cinematic Thinking, Screening the Past, 38, 2013. In addition, I co-edited with Lisabeth During Belief in Cinema: Themes after André Bazin, a special issue of Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 17:4, 2012.

 

At UNSW I have held numerous administrative positions, from being the Dean’s delegate on the then COFA Faculty Board, to contributing to appointment committees and promotion committees (for both the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Science). I have been the school representative on the FASS Standing Committee and the FASS Honours Working Party. I have held the positions of Film Studies Convenor, School Honours Convenor and School Research Convenor.


My Grants

GRANTS AND PRIZES AWARDED

Faculty Research Collaboration Seed Grant 'Caligari's Grandchildren' ($15,000) with Julian Murphet, Helen Groth, Sean Pryor, Erin Brannigan, Robert Buch, James Phillips, Chris Danta, John Attridge

School Research Grant 2016 ($1810), Project title: Understanding Cinematic Thinking.

School Research Grant 2015 ($850), Project title: Cinematic Thinking Network Symposium: Deleuze and Cinema

School Research Grant 2014 ($3127), Project title: Cinematic Thinking Network Symposium: Cinema’s Realisms

School Research Grant 2011($2000), Project title: Cinematic Thinking and Carl Theordor Dreyer’s Ordet

Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant (DP 1092889), ‘Film as Philosophy: Understanding Cinematic Thinking, 2010-2013 ($147,000).  First Chief investigator with CI Dr Robert Sinnerbrink (Macquarie University) and PI Dr Gregory Flaxman (University of North Carolina).

UNSW Vice-Chancellor’s Goldstar Award ($30,000), ‘Film as Philosophy: An Investigation of a New Interdisciplinary Field’, 2009.

UNSW Travel Grant for Society for Media Studies Conference, Vancouver, 2006.

UNSW Travel Grant for Screen Studies Conference, Glasgow, 2005.

Humanities Research Program Teaching Release Fellowship ($30,000), University of New South Wales, 2005.

Residency (and $5000 travel grant) at Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France.  University of Sydney, 2004.

Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant (DP0450596) ‘The Staging and Framing of Comic Performance in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries’, 2004-2006 ($80,000).  With Professor Jim Davis.

UNSW Travel Grant for Philosophy and Aesthetics Conference, University of Essex, 2003.

UNSW Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Research Grant ‘Comic Performance in Sennett Slapstick’ ($2000), 2003.

UNSW Humanities Research Program Teaching Release Fellowship ($23,000), 2002. 

UNSW Travel Grant for What’s Left of Theory? Conference (Cultural Studies Association of Australia), Hobart, 2001.

UNSW Travel Grant for the International Association for Philosophy and Literature Conference in Vico Equense and Naples, Italy, 1999.

UNSW Travel Grant for the International Association for Philosophy and Literature Conference at University of California, Irvine, 1998.

Sponsorship from the New South Wales Film and Television Office to present paper at the 1995 Society for Cinema Studies Conference in New York.

University of Sydney Travel Grant to present paper at the Society for Cinema Studies Conference in New York.  1995.

Commonwealth Post-Graduate Scholarship holder, 1989-1992.

University Medal 1987.

Mary Makinson Prize, Fourth Year Fine Arts, University of Sydney, 1987.


My Qualifications

BA (Honours Class 1, University Medal), PhD Syd.


My Awards

Grants and Awards

  • ARC Discovery Project 2010-2013 ($147,000) 'Film as Philosophy: What is Cinematic Thinking?' with Dr Robert Sinnerbrink (Macquarie University) and Dr Gregory Flaxman (University of North Carolina)
  • UNSW Vice Chancellor's Goldstar Award 2009 ($30,000)
  • ARC Discovery Project  2004-2006 ($80,000) ‘The Staging and Framing of Comic Performance in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries’, with Professor Jim Davis.
  • Residency at Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France.  University of Sydney, 2004.

My Research Activities

PUBLICATIONS

Books and Edited Collections

The Comedy of Philosophy: Sense and Nonsense in Early Cinematic Slapstick, Albany: SUNY Press, 2007.  264pp.

Cinema and/as Ethics, Special issue co-edited with Robert Sinnerbrink, SubStance, vol. 45, no. 3, Fall 2016, 191pp.

Special Dossier: Cinematic Thinking, co-edited with Robert Sinnerbrink, Screening the Past, Issue 38, 2013.

Belief in Cinema: Themes after André Bazin, Special Issue co-edited with Lisabeth During, Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 17: 4, 2012. 210pp. 

Books and edited collections in preparation

Understanding Cinematic Thinking: Film-Philosophy in Bresson, von Trier and Haneke, co-written with Gregory Flaxman and Robert Sinnerbrink, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, (expected publication in 2019).

Second Nature: Comic Performance and Philosophy, co-edited with Josephine Gray (Iraqi Bodies). Rowman & Littlefield, 2020

 

Refereed Journal Essays and Book Chapters

‘Stoicism, Causality, Divine Providence and Comedy in Buster Keaton’s The General’, Object of Comedy, edited by Gregor Moder and Jamila Mascat, London: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2019.

‘Silent Cinematic Slapstick and Aberrant Movement: The Remarkable films of Roméo Bosetti’, Acinémas: Lyotard’s Philosophy of Film, edited by Ashley Woodward and Graham Jones, Edinburgh University Press, 2017.

‘Introduction: Film and/as Ethics’, co-written with Robert Sinnerbrink, SubStance, vol. 45, no. 3, Fall 2016, pp. 3-15.

‘Belief in this World: The Dardenne Brothers’ The Son and Soren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling’, SubStance, vol. 45, no. 3, Fall 2016, pp. 98-119.

‘Being on the Outside: Cinematic Automatism in Stanley Cavell’s The World Viewed’, Film-Philosophy, vol. 18, 2014.

‘Serious Film: Cavell, Automatism and Michael Haneke’s Caché’, Screening the Past, Issue 38, 2013.

‘Belief in Cinema: Revisiting Themes from Bazin’, Editorial Introduction co-written with Lisabeth During, Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 17: 4, 2012, pp. 1-7.

Belief in Cinema: Jean-Luc Godard's Je vous salue, Marie and the Pedagogy of Images’, Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 17: 4, 2012, pp. 193-207.

‘Godard and Rancière: Automatism, Montage, Thinking’, The Philosophy of Radical Equality: Jacques Rancière and the Contemporary Scene, edited by Alison Ross and Jean-Philippe Deranty, Continuum, 2012.

The General (C. Bruckman, B. Keaton, 1926)’ in Il cinema americano attraverso i film, edited by Leonardo Gandini, Roma: Carocci editore, 2011, pp. 25-39.

‘Jean-François Lyotard’ in Film, Theory and Philosophy: The Key Thinkers, ed. by Felicity Colman, Durham: Acumen, 2009, pp. 222-232.

‘Dialektika rövidre zárva: elbeszélés és burleszk Buster Keaton mozijában’, Apertúra, Summer 2009, Special Issue on Genres of Visual Comedy (This essay is a revised version of the 2002 essay for Narrative.)

‘Film Theory’, co-written with Lisabeth During, in The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory 2006, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, pp.166-195.

‘Film Theory’, in The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory 2005, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007, pp.  165-185.

‘Film Theory’ co-written with Roger Dawkins and Hamish Ford, in The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory 2004, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006, pp. 311-335.

‘Lyotard, Freud and Early Cinematic Comedy’, Screen, vol.  43, no.  3, 2005, pp.  175-193.

‘Lights, Camera, Editing: Understanding Film’, Creativity and Transformation, ed.  by Richard Madelaine, Sydney: The English Association, 2005.

‘The Narrative Machine: Buster Keaton’s Cinematic Comedy, Deleuze’s Recursion Function and the Operational Aesthetic’, Senses of Cinema, no.  33, October-December 2004.

‘Senses of Visuality: Sardines, Surveillance and Cinema’, Theory and Event, vol.  7, no.  1, 2003.

‘The Ghost in the Machine: The Comedy of Technology in the Cinema of Buster Keaton’, South Atlantic Quarterly, vol.  101, no.  3, Summer 2002, pp 573-588.

‘A Taste for Murder: Aesthetic Practice in The Silence of the Lambs’, New Formations, no.  47, Summer 2002, pp.  133-148.

‘Short-Circuiting the Dialectic: Narrative and Slapstick in the Cinema of Buster Keaton’, Narrative, vol.  10, no.  3, October 2002, pp.  307-325.

‘The Comedy of Philosophy: Hegel, Bataille, Derrida’, Angelaki, vol. 6 no. 3, 2001, pp.  155-169.

‘Fool’s Gold: The Metamorphoses of Buster Keaton’ in George Kouvaros and Lesley Stern (eds), Falling For You, Sydney: Power Publications, 1999, pp.  209-244.

‘For the Noise of a Fly’, Alan Cholodenko (ed.), The Illusion of Life, Power Publications, Sydney, 1991, pp.  182-208.

Refereed Journal Essays and Book Chapters in preparation

‘Cavell, Comedy and The Ladies Man’, to be submitted to Screening the Past.

 

Other Publications

Review of Peter Osborne’s Anywhere or Not at All: Philosophy of Contemporary Art in Critical Inquiry, vol.  42, no. 2, Winter 2016; online edition 2015.

‘Thinking Cinematically before Deleuze’, Editorial Introduction co-written with Robert Sinnerbrink, Special Dossier: Cinematic Thinking, Screening the Past, Issue 38, 2013.

‘Comedy and Beyond’, Review of Geoff King’s Film Comedy, Film-Philosophy Journal, vol.  8, no.  15, May 2004.

Review of Helen Nicholson’s exhibition of painting, Eyeline, no.  24, Autumn/Winter 1994, p.  40.

Review of Virginia Ross’ photography exhibition ‘Some’, Photofile, no.  41, March 1994, p.  42.

Review of John Young’s art, Eyeline, no.  7, December 1988, p.  43.

 

Conference Papers

‘Belief in this World: The Dardenne Brothers’ The Son and Soren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling’, Cinematic Thinking Workshop, UNSW, Nov. 2015.

‘Cavell, Comedy and The Ladies Man’, Pratt Cinematic Thinking Workshop, Pratt Institute, November 2013.

‘Cinematic Comedy and Aberrant Movement: The Remarkable films of Roméo Bosetti’, Psychoanalysis and Laughter Conference, Fordham University, April 2013 (invited speaker).

‘Dogville and the Philosophical Thought Experiment’, Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, Chicago, USA, March, 2013 (invited Panelist on Film and Philosophy panel).

‘Being on the outside: Stanley Cavell’s world viewed, cinematic automatism and Michael Haneke’s Caché’, 2nd Cinematic Thinking Workshop: Thinking Cinematically before Deleuze, UNSW, December 2012.

‘Women, Masochism and the Spiritual Automaton in the Cinema of Lars von Trier’, Panel on Affect, Thought, Time: What is Cinematic Thinking?’, Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy Conference: The Times of Our Lives, La Trobe University, Dec, 2011.

‘Belief and the Spiritual Automaton in Breaking the Waves’, Cinematic Thinking Workshop, UNSW, 2011.

‘Cinema and Politics: Rancière and Godard’, Film and History Association of Australia and New Zealand (FHAANZ) Conference, UNSW in Nov/Dec, 2010.

‘Belief in Cinema’, Panel on Philosophy and the Cinematic Work of Art, Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy Conference: Philosophy and the Work of Art, Monash University, November-December 2009.

Cinematic figuration, Gilles Deleuze and Jean-Luc Godard’s Je vous salue, Marie’, Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, Vancouver, Canada, March 2006.

‘Gilles Deleuze, cinematic figuration and Jean-Luc Godard’s Je vous salue, Marie’, Screen Studies Conference, University of Glasgow, June 2005.

‘Preposterous Figurality: Freud, Lyotard and cinematic comedy’, Sensorium: Philosophy and Aesthetics Conference, University of Melbourne, June 2005; University of Essex, July 2003; Humor Symposium, University of New South Wales, 2002; Interpretation of Dreams, Dreams of Interpretation Conference, University of Minnesota, 2000; Vico Equense and Naples, Italy, 1999.

‘The Ghost in the Machine: The Comedy of Technology in the Cinema of Buster Keaton’, What’s Left of Theory? Conference (Cultural Studies Association of Australia), Hobart, Australia, 2001; Medium Cool: Recent Developments in Aesthetics, Cultural Studies and Critical Theory Conference, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, 1998.

‘A taste for Murder: Aesthetic Practice in the Silence of the Lambs’, Keynote address, Anatomies of Violence Conference, University of Sydney, 1999; Cinema and the Senses Conference, University of New South Wales, 1998; International Association for Literature and Philosophy Conference, University of California, Irvine, 1998.

‘Aesthetic Practice in Serial Killer Films’, Screen Conference, University of Glasgow, 1997.

‘Fool’s Gold: The Metamorphoses of Buster Keaton’s Sherlock, Jr.’, Society for Cinema Studies Conference, New York, United States of America, 1995.

‘Buster Keaton’s Comic Metamorphoses’, Caught In the Act: Cinema and Performance Conference at University of New South Wales, 1995.

‘For the Noise of a Fly’, The Illusion of Life Animation Conference, University of Sydney, 1988.

 

Guest Lectures/Seminars/Book Launches/Responses

‘Comic Cinema and Bad Metaphor’.  Seminar at Humanities Center, University of California, Irvine, 2007.

Bodies not Brains: Physicality and Primitive Desire in Sennett Films of the Keystone period’.  Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, 2007.

‘Comic Cinema and Bad Metaphor’, School Seminar Series, Media, Film and Theatre, University of New South Wales, 2006.

Book Launch: David Wills, Matchbook: Essays in Deconstruction (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005) at Australian Society for Continental Philosophy ‘Politics of Being’ Conference, UNSW, 2005.

‘The Iterability of the Image’, Sydney Film Festival Forum ‘Is it possible to think in images?’, 2005.

The Figurality of Vision in City Lights’, Department of English, University of Sussex, 2005; Power Institute of Fine Arts, University of Sydney, 2004; Department of Film, University of Lancaster: 2004. 

Panel Respondent ‘What’s Left of Film Theory?’ What’s Left of Theory? Conference (Cultural Studies Association of Australia), Hobart, Australia, 2001.

John Logie Baird Seminar, University of Glasgow.  ‘The Ghost in the Machine: Buster Keaton, Martin Heidegger and the Comedy of Technology’, 1997.

Sydney College of the Arts, ‘The Machine in Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even and Buster Keaton’s The Navigator’, 1991.

School of Philosophy, University of New South Wales, ‘For the Noise of a Fly’, 1988. 

                         

 


My Research Supervision


Supervision keywords


Areas of supervision

comic performance and comedy

philosophy of comedy

film and philosophy

European cinema

film genres

post-structuralist aesthetics

Deleuze and cinema.

film and psychoanalysis

 

Past Supervisions

1. Richard Smith, ‘The Traffic in Images: Deleuze’s Cinema Books and the New Action Image’ (Ph.D., supervisor, completed 2003).  Faculty Thesis prize recipient.

2. Teresa Rizzo, ‘From the Cinematic Apparatus to the Cinematic Assemblage’ (Ph.D., co-supervisor, completed 2004).

3. Hamish Ford, ‘Negativity and Time in Modernist Cinema’ (Ph.D., co-supervisor, completed 2005)
4. Roger Dawkins, ‘Deleuze’s Cinema Books and the Semiotics of Charles Sanders Peirce’ (Ph.D., joint supervisor, completed 2006).  Faculty Thesis prize nominee.

5. Jenny Breukelaar, ‘The Powers of the False: A New Look at Noir’ (Ph.D., joint supervisor, completed 2007)
6. Kimberley Tyrrell, ‘Whiteness and Contemporary Monstrosity’ (Ph.D., supervisor, completed 2008)
7. Deborah Klika, ‘Australian Television Comedy’ (Masters by Research, joint supervisor, completed 2010)

8. Megan Carrigy, ‘Performing History, Troubling Reference: Troubling the Screen Re-enactment’ (Ph.D. supervisor and co-supervisor, completed 2011). Faculty Thesis prize recipient.

9. Sean Mosely, ‘The Australian Classification System: Practices and Policies Regarding Adult Animated Films’ (Masters by Research, supervisor, completed 2011)

10. Sharon Mee, ‘The Pulse in Cinema’ (Ph.D., supervisor completed 2017). Faculty Thesis Prize Short List.

11. Keyvan Manafi, ‘The Facing Image: Ethics, Realism, and the Cinematographic Eye’ (Ph.D., supervisor, completed 2018).


Currently supervising

Nitin Vengurlekar, ‘Resistive Choreographies in Contemporary Dance-Theatre and Film: The Visual Strategies of Pina Bausch and Jacques Tati’.

Vanessa Alexander, ‘The Comedy of Equality in the Sit-Com’.

Albert Alla, ‘Farce’.

Gabrielle Lowe, ‘Gilles Deleuze, ‘Modern Cinema, Belief and Virtual Reality’.


My Engagement

  • Founding member of Cinematic Thinking Network
  • Member of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies
  • 2011-2019 Cinematic Thinking Network Director 
  • 2010-2019 ARC Assessor
  • 2018-Review Panel for Bachelor of Art Theory Program, Art & Design, UNSW
  • 2018-Referee for Hegel Studies
  • 2018-Book proposal reviewer for Palgrave
  • 2016-Manuscript Reader for SUNY
  • 2016-Research referee for tenure application, University of Toronto
  • 2015-Convener of film stream for the Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy Conference, UNSW, December
  • 2015-Referee for Empedocles—European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication
  • 2011-2015 Conference Organiser for 5 Cinematic Thinking Workshops (2011 Cinematic Thinking, 2012 Thinking Cinematically before Deleuze, 2013 Cinema and/as Ethics, 2014 Cinema’s Realisms, 2015 Deleuze and Cinema)
  • 2009-2010 School representative, Honours Working Party, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
  • 2009 Honours Convenor for Media, Film and Theatre and Performance Studies.
  • 2009 School Representative, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Standing Committee
  • 2006 Invited speaker: Australia Research Council Discovery Project Workshop, Faculty of  Arts and Social Sciences
  • 2005-2006 Promotions Committee (Level A to Level B) Faculty of Science
  • 2005-2007 School Representative, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Research Committee
  • 2004 Invited participant: University Level B to Level C Promotion Workshop
  • 2000-2004 Representative for the Presiding Member of the Academic Board at the College of  Fine Arts, Faculty Board Meetings
  • 2003  Film Studies Convenor
  • 2001-2003 School Representative, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Standing Committee
  • 2001-2003 Promotions Committee (Level A to Level B) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
  • 2001 Appointment Committee, Lecturer in Film Studies
  • 2000 Appointment Committee, Lecturer in Film Studies
  • 1999-2002 School of Theatre, Film and Dance Honours Convenor
  • 1998 Appointment Committee, 3 Lecturing positions in Media, UNSW
  • Referee for the following journals Screening the Past, Fibreculture, Screen, M/C Journal, Cultural Studies Review, Deleuze Studies, Australian Feminist Studies, Bulletin de la Société Américaine de Philosophie de Langue Française, Angelaki, Convergence, Form/Work
  • Thesis examiner, University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, UNSW, University of Canterbury, University of Western Sydney, University of Sydney

My Teaching

ARTS1060 Introduction to Film

ARTS1062 Hollywood Cinema: Industry, Aesthetics, Technology (Convenor)

ARTS2063 National Cinemas (Convenor)

ARTS2064 Film Genres (Convenor)

ARTS3062 Aspects of Film History: Film as Philosophy (Convenor)

       
 
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Location

226, Level 2 Robert Webster

Contact

+61 2 9385 5011