Jonathan M. Hall, Assistant Professor of Media Studies

Assistant Professor of Media Studies

B.A., “History of Ideas” Independent Major, Princeton University, magna cum laude

M.A. and Ph.D., History of Consciousness, University of California Santa Cruz



Contact for Professor Hall:

Fall 2014 Courses and Office Hours:

Freud, Film, Fantasy…

Transnational Asian Cinemas

Office Hours: T/Th 1:30 to 2:30 and by appointment



My research has focused on critical and psychoanalytic theories, avant-garde and experimental literature and film, queer theory, and cultural studies. I draw my materials from popular cinema and media, from experimental film, video, and animation, as well as from the unfolding directions of new media. I am especially interested in the intersections of desire, expression, and politics with special concern for filmic, literary, and new media texts from East and Southeast Asia. My first book project, “Geographies of Unbelievable Latitude,” addresses media theory, social histories of perversion, and the mid-century Japanese film underground. I have begun work on a second project on the history of Japanese experimental film.

Film Curatorial Work

Curatorial work is vital to sustain a dynamic, active visual culture.  In Spring 2003, I co-curated with Po-Chen Tsai “Queerly Chinese Cinemas” at the University of Chicago. My “JPEX: Japanese Experimental Film & Video 1955-now,” co-curated with Michelle Puetz, toured seven North American cities in 2004 and 2005. An abridged version was shown at the Frankfurt German Film Musuem in 2007. In January 2o1o, I co-curated with Mizoguchi Akiko “Iwasa Hiroki: Complete Works” in Tokyo, Japan,  while in March 2011, I was busy with a program on the work of Japanese animator Kurosaka Keita for the Ann Arbor Independent Film Festival.  In collaboration with the Pomona College Museum of Art, I have hosted Chinese animator Wu Junyong and organized Pomona’s participation in the biennial Los Angeles-wide celebration of Chinese contemporary film.


Although I only find myself behind the camera as an amateur, I am experienced professionally in the production of one commercial short and two documentary features.  I have extensive experience with bilingual (Japanese/English) on-camera interviews.  I have interviewed or co-interviewed such varied luminaries as: Donald Richie, Bando Tamasaburo, Koyama Akiko, and Sai Yoichi.

Field Producer. Tokyo Waka. Directors: John Haptas, Kristine Samuelson / USA, Japan / 2012 / 63 mins / English & Japanese with English subtitles. Color.

Associate Producer.  Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful. Director: Yuriko Gamo Romer/ USA/ 2012 / 66 mins/ English & Japanese with English subtitles. B&W, Color.



I subtitle Japanese films as an effort to increase international audiences’ engagement with Japanese contemporary independent Japanese cinema.   I have subtitled films that have featured at the Yamagata Int’l. Documentary Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival,

Recent Publications

“On Visual Philosophy: A Conversation between Jonathan M. Hall and Kawai Masayuki,” Intermedia Arts: Bokura wa me de shiko suru. [Intermedia Arts: we think with our eyes] Tokyo: Gendai kikakushitsu, 2011. (in Japanese)

“Kneeling on Broken Glass: Psychoanalysis and Japan Film Studies,” Iconics Vol 10 (2010), (Japan Society of Images Arts and Sciences) 167-190.

Awards and Honors

Honorary Member, Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, 2008-2010
Postdoctoral Fellow, SSRC/Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 2009-10
Postdoctoral Fellow at the Research Institute for Language and Culture at Meiji Gakuin University (Tokyo), 2009-2011
Pacific Rim Research Program Grant for “Pacific Undergrounds,” 2007-2008


To learn the language of images is to learn to think anew. In my teaching, I focus on strategies of putting into words and into conversation the powerful, but seemingly ineffable qualities of thought and image. This process requires a stripping away of sedimented convention and the rigorous identification and explication of the idea or object that lies before us. In articulating one’s perception, it grows and expands into a vibrant volley of observations and affects. Capturing even some of these perceptions to share as common assets is the beginning of knowledge and communication. To achieve these goals, students and I rely on critical theory, psychoanalysis, the power of observation, and the practice of the pen. We coax theory from image, image, from word, and word from thought—and position these crystallizations within the broader conversations of our times. Students working with me learn not only the skills of critical theory and textual analysis but they also become committed advocates for their own creativity.

Current Courses (taught 2010-2014)

  • Pomona Media Guild
  • The Language of Film
  • Brief History of Film Theory
  • Transnational Asian Cinemas
  • Japanese Cinema: Canon to Fringe
  • Queer Visions, Queer Theory: Pasolini, Fassbinder, Tsai, Apichatpong
  • Freud, Film, Fantasy …
  • Independent & Experimental Film & Video
  • The Horrific and the Terrible: Japanese Visions of Horror