Dana Polan

Professor; Chair

Professor Dana Polan

I am the author of 11 books in film and media and approximately 200 essays, reviews, and review-essays.  Two of the books are in Duke University Press's new series, Spin-offs, on individual television shows: one on The Sopranos, one on Julia Child's The French Chef.  I am a former president of the Society for Cinema Studies, the professional society for film, and a former editor of its publication, Cinema Journal.  I have a Doctorat d'Etat in Letters from the Sorbonne Nouvelle and a Ph.D. in Modern Thought from Stanford.  I have been knighted by the French Ministry of Culture for contributions to cross-cultural exchange, and in 2003, I was selected as one of that year's two Academy Foundation Scholars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

My most recent book is Dreams of Flight: The Great Escape in American Film and Culture (University of California Press, 2021). My BFI Classics volume on Close Encounters of the Third Kind is forthcoming.

Other recent books include The LEGO Movie (University of Texas Press, 2020), Scenes of Instruction:  The Beginnings of the U.S. Study of Film (UC Press, 2007), The Sopranos (Duke University Press, 2009), and The French Chef (Duke University Press, 2011).  I have done 7 DVD commentaries including, most recently, The Third Man (Criterion Collection).

Prior Publications/Achievements:
Power and Paranoia: History, Narrative, and the American Cinema, 1940-1950 (Columbia University Press, 1986); The Politics of Film and the Avant-Garde (U.M.I. Press, 1984); In a Lonely Place (BFI Film Classics, 1993); Pulp Fiction (BFI Modern Classics, 2000); Jane Campion (BFI World Directors, 2001); “Cable Watching:  HBO, The Sopranos and Discourses of Distinction,” in Cable Visions: Television Beyond Broadcasting, ed., Sarah Banet-Weiser, Cynthia Chris and Tony Frietas; “Globalism’s Localisms” in Global/Local: Cultural Production and the Transnational Imaginary, eds. Rob Wilson and Wimal Dissanayake; “The Professor of History” in The Persistence of History: Film and the Historians, ed. Vivian Sobchak; “The Confusions of Warren Beatty” in The End of Cinema As We Know It…American Film in the Nineties, ed. John Lewis. Numerous other essays published in Cinema Journal, CineAction, Camera Obscura, October, Yale Journal of Criticism, and elsewhere.  Translator of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature. DVD commentator for Angels With Dirty Faces, Bad Day at Black Rock, Border Incident, Bullets or Ballots, Emperor of the North, The Third Man, and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter. Former President of the Society for Cinema Studies; Former Editor of Cinema Journal (1987-92); Associate Editor of Film and Philosophy, Jump Cut, and Journal of Film and Video. Knighted as Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts by the French Government (1998). Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) Academy Scholar (2003); National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Stipend (1994); Rockefeller Scholar-in-Residence Grant (1988).


B.A., Cornell, 1975
M.A., Ph.D., Stanford, 1980
Doctorat D’Etat, Universite de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, 1987