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Dr. Ryan Pierson

Pronouns: he/him

Contact information

Web presence


Office: Social Sciences214

For media enquiries, contact

Preferred method of communication



Educational Background

B.A. Film Studies, University of Georgia, 2004

Doctor of Philosophy English, University of Pittsburgh, 2012

M.A. Cinema Studies, New York University, 2005


Areas of Research

History and Theory of Animation

I am primarily a historian and theorist of animated film, who also does research in classical film theory, modernism, and the history of design.

Participation in university strategic initiatives


Course number Course title Semester
FILM 30522 LEC 01 01 Topic in Genre 2021
FILM 40325 LEC 01 01 Topic in the Director's Cinema 2021
FILM 40908 LAB 01 B01 Special Topics in Film Studies 2021
FILM 591 LEC 01 01 Senior Seminar in Film Studies 2021


Pragmatic Visions: Vachel Lindsay's "Democratic" Spectatorship and Early Cinema

This SSHRC-funded project investigates the ideas of poet Vachel Lindsay on the then-new medium of cinema. In 1915, as cinema was coalescing into a major industry, American poet Vachel Lindsay wrote the first book of film theory, arguing for film as a tool of aesthetic enlightenment and political engagement. Pragmatic Visions traces Lindsay’s little-understood theory of how cinema engages viewers. Lindsay argued that film’s sensuous power could offer spectators “visions,” in something like a religious sense, of society’s potential future. But the public nature of film exhibition meant that, unlike private religious visions, cinema’s visions could be debated democratically. This project also unearths the cultural context around Lindsay’s ideas. By locating Lindsay’s encounters with print culture, Progressivism, and primitivism, this project reveals disturbing tensions between the ideal and practice of democracy in turn-of-the-century America—tensions that still exist today.


  • Naomi Lacey Resident Fellowship, Calgary Institute for the Humanities. 2021