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Thursday, January 23, 2014
Paula Amad
Paula Amad

Paula Amad, University of Iowa associate professor in the Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is the 2014 recipient of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies’ Katherine Singer Kovács Award for Outstanding Essay.

Her winning composition, “Visual Riposte: Looking Back at the Return of the Gaze as Postcolonial Theory’s Gift to Film Studies,” analyzes the “return-of-the-gaze” phenomenon—film actors’ practice of looking directly into the camera—with regard to postcolonial and visual studies. The essay was published last year in Cinema Journal, the journal of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.

The award selection committee writes, “Written in an engaging, accessible, and lucid style, we see this essay serving as essential reading for students and as a work that will be debated, critiqued, and extended by other scholars. Dr. Amad’s essay ‘Visual Riposte’ is bound to be an influential work, one that will contribute to a revitalization of postcolonial theory in film and media scholarship.”

In spring 2013, Amad taught an undergraduate seminar titled “If Looks Could Kill: The Arresting Image in the History of Photography,” which she developed around her “return-of-the-gaze” research. As part of the course, students examined archival and digital photos of people looking into the camera “to explore the medium’s ability to shock and transform the way we perceive ourselves, the world, and the past.” Amad reflected on the experience in an essay published last May in the online journal Flow.

Amad earned a doctorate from the University of Chicago in 2002 and joined the University of Iowa faculty in 2004. She will receive the Outstanding Essay Award at the annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference on March 21.