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Alumni Graduate Students

Laura Horak


Dissertation: “Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-Dressed Women and the Legitimation of American Silent Cinema” 

Associate Professor of Film Studies, Carleton University

Laura Horak


Laura Horak completed her Ph.D. in Film & Media at Berkeley in 2011. She is now Associate Professor of Film Studies at Carleton University, in Ottawa, Ontario, after a three-year postdoc at Stockholm University.

She is the author of Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-Dressing Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908-1934 (Rutgers UP, 2016) and co-editor of Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space (Indiana UP, 2014), Unwatchable (Rutgers UP, 2019), and a special issue of Somatechnics on trans/cinematic/bodies.

Horak investigates how cinema has helped envision new forms of gender and sexuality, from the early twentieth century to today. With colleagues in the United States and Europe, she is establishing a new field at the intersection of transgender studies and cinema and media studies. Founder of the Transgender Media Lab, she is creating novel digital tools to connect scholarly work with marginalized communities. Horak also brings the results of her research to the public by programming feminist, queer, and trans silent films at film festivals in Italy, Sweden, and the United States. With Cinema’s First Nasty Women, she is embarking on an unprecedented collaboration with eleven film archives across Europe and North America, Kino Lorber, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, and the Women Film Pioneers Project, to make 98 silent films featuring cross-dressing women and women comedians publicly available for the first time. Horak’s research demonstrates the key role of cinema in shaping the possibilities of gender and sexuality in our lives.

Her work has been published in the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, Camera Obscura, Feminist Media Histories, Journal of Scandinavian Cinema, Film Quarterly, Spectator, European Journal of Scandinavian Studies, Z Filmtidskrift, Canadian Journal of Film Studies, Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film, The Moving Image, and The Guardian and the edited collections The SAGE Encyclopedia of Trans Studies, The Power of Vulnerability, The Image in Early Cinema, A Companion to D.W. Griffith, A Companion to Nordic Cinema, The Arclight Guide to Media History and the Digital Humanities.