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Nathan Holmes

Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies

Nathan’s research and teaching center on the ways that film has given presence to, and shaped understandings of cities, public life, and the built environment. To this end he’s interested in cinema’s relationship to urban visual culture and history, film and media theory (especially theories of realism), the political imagination of mass culture, transnational genres and cycles, and film/media and the environment (natural and built). His forthcoming book Welcome to Fear City: Crime Film, Crisis, and the Urban Imagination (SUNY Press 2018) examines how location-shot American crime films of the 1970s expressively engaged with cities during an era of intensified suburbanization, racial division, deindustrialization, and infrastructural decay. Taking an interdisciplinary approach that places films like Klute, The French Connection, and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three alongside architectural history, urban sociology, and popular discourses of urban decline, the book explores how the design of parking garages, discos, and street lighting, the optics of police undercover operations, and landscapes of decay were gathered into crime narratives, inviting audiences to re-experience the city.


He is currently completing articles related to global ciné-genres, mid-century prison films, and developing a longer-term project on background settings and the production of public life in pre- and postwar American film.  

More About Me

Holmes received his PhD in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, then moved on to become a post-doctoral researcher with the Michigan-Mellon Project on Egalitarianism and the Metropolis at the University of Michigan. He has taught classes in film, media, and cultural studies at the University of Iowa, Loyola University, University of New Brunswick, and Baruch College. He is currently an editor at Mediapolis: The Journal of Cities and Culture.

In Holmes’ classes, students consider the transnational nature of film and media history, as well as cinema’s relationship to popular visual culture and social transformation. Holmes is particularly interested in the way that moving images allow us to experience, reflect on, and talk about our shared world.   


“Deep Backgrounds: Landscapes of Labor in All the President’s Men,” Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies/Revue d’etudes interculturelle de l’image, Fall 2018. 

Welcome to Fear City: Crime Film, Crisis, and the Urban Imagination, SUNY Press, 2018.

“Curtiz at Sea: Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, The Sea Wolf, The Breaking Point” in The Many Cinemas of Michael Curtiz, University of Texas Press, 2018.

“Rudolph Arnheim: Cinema and Partial Illusion,” in Thinking in the Dark: Cinema, Theory, Practice, Rutgers University Press, 2015, 101-112.