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Dr Valentina Vitali

Professor of Film Studies

Moving Image Research Centre, Arts and Digital Industries (ADI)

    Valentina Vitali is a film historian. Her research explores, from a comparative perspective, the relation between history, economics and film aesthetics. She has written extensively on Hindi cinema, on concepts of the national in cinema, and on film historiography. She has been teaching film history and theory for twenty years

    BA in Comparative Literature, Universität Zürich, 1984-89

    MA in English Literature, Universität Zürich, 1989-90

    BA in South Asian Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, 1994-98

    Ph.D. University of Ulster, 2001 The Aesthetics of Cultural Modernisation: Hindi Cinema 1947 - 1957

    Valentina is a member of the editorial board of Sine/Cine: the Journal of Cinema Research and of the editorial advisory committee of The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism. She is a fellow of the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore and, at UEL, has acted as subject area representative on her school’s Research & Knowledge Exchange Committee and on the Research Degrees Sub-Committee for eight years.


    Over the last fifteen years, Valentina’s work has focused on what is today generally referred to as 'world cinema'.  Her research follows two tracks: on the one hand, the study of national cinemas and films' relation to the specific historical context that has produced them; on the other hand, questions of film historiography. She examines films and other image-based forms of industrial culture as the products of the global expansion of capitalism – each product mediating in its own way capitalism and the cinematic apparatus’ encounter with historically specific, local conditions. This has led her to produce a series of publications that, against the narrow study of national cinemas as isolated instances, open up cinema, its aesthetics and history, to comparative scrutiny.

    Valentina’s areas of interest include Indian, Mexican and Italian cinemas, exploitation films, concepts of the national in cinema, film as history, and image-based work by women.  She is currently working on a new book about filmic constructions of the private sphere.


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    Capital and Popular Cinema: the Dollars Are Coming! Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016.

    Hindi Action Cinema: Industries, Narratives, Bodies, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2008; Indiana University Press, 2010.

    Theorising National Cinemas, London: BFI, 2006, co-edited with Paul Willemen.



    Essays in books and refereed journals


    ‘The Circulation and Reception of Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Films in the New Millennium’, in Kuei-fen Chiu and Ming-yeh T. Rawnsley (eds) Taiwan Cinema, International Reception and Social Change, London and New York: Routledge, 2016.

    ‘Antonioni’s Chung Kuo-Cina as a Moment of Explicitation’, in Felicia Chan (ed.) Chinese Cinemas: International Perspectives, London and New York: Routledge, 2016.

    ‘Migration and National Cinema’ in Immanuel Ness (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration, Volume 3, Oxford/Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013, pp 1454-1459. 

    ‘The Hindi Horror Film: Notes on the Realism of a Marginal Genre’, in Felicia Chan, Angelina Karpovich and Xin Zhang (eds) Genre in Asian Film and Television, London: MacMillan, 2011, pp. 130-48. 

    ‘The Evil I: Realism and Scopophilia in the Horror Films of the Ramsay Brothers’, in Rachel Dwyer and Jerry Pinto (eds) Beyond the Boundaries of Bollywood, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 77-101.

    ‘Film Historiography as Theory of the Film Subject: a Case Study’, Cinema Journal, Vol. 50 No. 1 (2011), pp. 141-46.

    ‘Revisiting the Realism of the Cosmetics of Hunger: Cidade de deus and Ônibus 174’, New Cinemas, Vol. 8, No. 1 (2010), pp. 15-30, co-authored with Dr. Felicia Chan, University of Manchester.

    ‘History Matters’ in Manju Jain (ed.) Narratives of Indian Cinema, Delhi: Primus Books, 2009, pp. 53-68.

    ‘Hou Hsiao-hsien Reviewed’, InterAsia Cultural Studies, Vol. 9 No. 2 Special Issue (March 2008), pp. 280-89.

    ‘Cultural Specificity and Universalism in the Work of Shirin Neshat’ / ‘Kulttuurinen erityisyys ja universaalisuus Shirin Neshat taiteessa’, in Païvi Talasmaa (ed.) Slöjans helighet / The Secret of the Veil, Espoo: Espoo Museum of Modern Art, 2007, pp. 16-43.

    ‘On the Frontal Subjects of the Hindi Melodrama: Notes for a Comparative Approach to Film’, boundary2, Vol. 33 No. 2 (Summer 2006), pp. 159-76.

    ‘Not a Biography of the “Indian Cinema”: Historiography and the Question of National Cinema in India’, in Valentina Vitali and Paul Willemen (eds) Theorising National Cinemas, London: BFI, 2006, pp. 262-73.

    ‘Reading “Mahdokht” / “Mahdokht” Verstehen’ in Britta Schmitz and Beatrice E. Stammer (eds) Shirin Neshat, Berlin and Göttingen: Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof and Stiedl, 2005, pp. 21-32, 107-12.

    ‘Hong Kong – Hollywood – Bombay: on the Function of Martial Art in the Hindi Action Cinema’ in Meaghan Morris and Stephen Chan (eds) Hong Kong Connections: Transnational Imagination in Action Cinema, Durham and Hong Kong: Duke University Press and Hong Kong University Press, 2005, pp. 125-50.

    ‘Why Study Cinema? Serial Visions of the Culture Industry and the Future of Film Studies’, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Vol. 6 No. 2 (May 2005), pp. 282-88.

    ‘Nationalist Hindi Cinema: Questions of Film Analysis and Historiography’, Kinema, Vol. 22 (Fall 2004), pp.63-82.

    ‘Corporate Art and Critical Theory: on Shirin Neshat’, Women: A Cultural Review, Vol. 15 No. 1 (Spring 2004), pp. 1-18.

    ‘The Families of Hindi Cinema: for a Historical Approach to Film’, Framework: the Journal of Cinema and Media, Vol. 42 (Sept. 2000).         

    Book reviews in refereed journals


    ‘The Politics of Film Historiography’ in Southern Review. Communication, Politics & Culture Vol.35 No.2 (Fall 2002) pp.131-135.

    ‘India’s Newspaper Revolution’ and ‘A Cinema of Interruptions’ in Journal of Asian Studies Vol. 63, No. 2 (May 2004).

    Interviews in refereed journals


    ‘Yesim Ustaoglu’ in Framework. Special edition on Middle Eastern Cinema, Vol.43 No.2 (Fall 2002) pp. 196-200.

    ‘Between “Art” and “Cinema”: Shirin Neshat’s Photography and Videos’ in n.paradoxa: International Feminist Art Journal Vol.12 (2003), pp. 33-43.

    Magazine publications


    ‘In Conversation with Wayne Wang’ in Filmwaves No.16 (March 2001) pp.22-25.

    ‘Cultural Tourism: Locarno Film Festival 2002’ in Filmwaves No.19 (November 2002) pp.10-13.

    ‘Still Looking for “Kathryn Bigelow”’ in Filmwaves No.21 (May 2003) pp. 24-26.

    ‘War at a Distance: Harun Farocki’s Erkennen und Verfolgen’ in Filmwaves No.22 (Oct. 2003).

    ‘Cinema and Human Rights: Locarno Film Festival 2003’ in Filmwaves No.22 (Oct. 2003).

    ‘Tabloid Visions and the Aestheticisation of Politics: the Times-BFI London Film Festival 2003’ in Filmwaves No.23 (Dec. 2003).






    Valentina teaches on Asian, Latin American and European cinemas, film theory, and in film practice-based courses. She has supervised PhD dissertations on, among other subjects, Telugu mythological films, Japanese, South Korean, South Asian and Kuwaiti cinemas, film and memory, music in African and Chinese cinemas.