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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Professor Janet Harbord


Professor of Film Studies

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 5910
Room Number: Arts One 1.19A


I am principle investigator (with Steven Eastwood) on a four year Wellcome Trust funded project, ‘Autism through Cinema’.

I am interested in the many ways that film creates relationships between bodies, feelings and environments. I’ve written about this in different ways. In Film Cultures (2002), I explored how film from its inception, enacted shock on its viewing subjects, disciplining attention through architecture and control of the sensory environment. In The Evolution of Film (2007), the impetus was the historical decline of cinema as an institution leading to new concerns about attention and distraction in public and private space that led to a collaborative project (with Chris Berry and Rachel Moore) Public Space Media Space (2013).

More recently, in Ex-centric Cinema: Giorgio Agamben and Film Archaeology (2016), I’ve pursued cinema’s part in the becoming-human of the human being as is an event never accomplished but always underway, a production that also gives definition to what is considered the inhuman. Currently I’m working on the project, ‘Autism through Cinema’, exploring the relation of medical film to entertainment film at key moments during the twentieth century, examining how certain bodies are made legible and others illegible.

I have also written about art, film and time in the work of Chris Marker, Rachel Whiteread, Rania Stephens, Mika Taanila, Simon Starling and Joseph Cornell. I’m a member of the Centre for Film and Ethics at Queen Mary.


FLM604 Film Archaeology

FLM 506 Modern / Postmodern Cinema

FLM 6202 Film Studies Research project

MA Film Studies core course

Current PhD supervision

Songyan Du: 'A Multimodal Approach to Chinese Subtitling of English-language Films', co-supervised with Dr. Agnieszka Lyons (Linguistics)

Cathy Lomax: 'The Allure of Screen Makeup and its role in the creation of on - and off-screen female identity', co-supervised with Dr. Lucy Bolton

Tashi Petter: 'Modernism and Marginality: Rediscovering the 1930s Silhouette Films of Lotte Reiniger, An Animator in Exile', co-supervised with Dr. Alasdair King


Research Interests:

  • autism, embodiment and the neurodiversity movement
  • the radical antipsychiatry movement and its use of film
  • media and film archaeology
  • the philosophy of Giorgio Agambe:
  • cinema and the nonhuman / post-human
  • art and avant-garde film
  • montage and the essay film


Books and edited works

Ex-centric Cinema: Giorgio Agamben and Film Archaeology (Bloomsbury Academic Thinking Cinema Series, 2016)

Public Space-Media Space, co-edited with Berry, C and Moore, R (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

Simon Starling, co-edited with Dieter Roelstraete and Francesco Manacorda (Phaidon Press, 2012)

Chris Marker: La Jetée (Afterall Books & MIT, 2009)

The Evolution of Film: Rethinking Film Studies (Polity Press, 2007)

Film Cultures (Sage Publications, 2002), (Korean translation 2005, e-book 2006)

Temporalities: autobiography and everyday life, co-edited with Campbell, J (Manchester University Press, 2002)

Psycho-politics, co-edited with Campbell, J (Taylor and Francis, 1998)

Selected ariticles and book chapters

‘Contingency, time and event: An archaeological approach to the film festival’, in The Film Festival Reader, ed. by De Valck M, Loist S, Kredell B (Routledge, 2016)

‘Hauntology and hospitality in the films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’, in Art and the Politics of Visibility: Contesting the Global, Local and the in-Between, ed. by Zeena Feldman (I.B.Taurus, 2016)

‘Agamben’s Cinema: Psychology versus an Ethical Form of Life’, Necsus European Journal of Media Studies, Autumn 2015

'Rose Hobart Stop Return', Contemporary Theatre Review, The Practices and Processes of Editing edited by Maria Delgado and Joanna Tompkins, 25:1, 2015

‘Tracking the Screen in Public Space: Everyday Dis/Enchantment’, co-authored with Chris Berry in Technovisuality: Cultural Re-enchantment and the Experience of Technology, ed. by H. Grace (I.B.Taurus, 2015)

'Gesture, time, movement: David Claerbout meets Giorgio Agamben on the Boulevard du Temple' in Cinema and Agamben: Ethics, Biopolitics and the Moving Image, ed. by Henrik Gustafsson and Asbjørn Grønstad (Continuum, 2014)

'Copernicus and I: Revolutions in perception with the Eames' Powers of Ten', in Technology and Desire: the Transgressive Art of Moving Images, ed. by Rania Gafaar & Martin Schulz (Intellect Books, 2014)

'Film Festivals-Time-Event', anthologised in The Film Festival Reader, ed. by Dina Iordanova (St Andrews Press, 2013)

Grants and awards (collaborative)

2018-2022 Autism through Cinema, with co-investigator Dr Steven Eastwood, Wellcome Trust Award £657,000

2012-14 Bazaar Cinema: young people’s repurposing of film media in London and Mumbai, AHRC International Network Grant, £45,000

2013 Researcher in Residence Scheme partnership with East End Film Festival: AHRC £40.000

2009-10 MediaCity: Social Trends and digital memory, EPSRC and AHRC £740k (£90k for first year: Co-investigator with Nick Couldry, Goldsmiths)

2008-12 Spaces of the Media: Tracking the Screen in Public Space, Leverhulme Trust £289k. Chris Berry, Janet Harbord, Rachel Moore.

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