The past is always changing: An interview with Tom Gunning


Tom Gunning is one of the most influential and widely cited film historians in the world with over 150 essays and publications on early cinema, the avant-garde, and film genres. He has published extensively on questions of film style and interpretation, film history and film culture, and on early cinema as well as on the culture of modernity from which cinema arose. In his seminal studies of the ‘cinema of attractions’, the concept he famously proposed, he set a new research agenda for early cinema studies by relating the development of cinema to other forces besides storytelling, such as new experiences of space and time in modernity, the relation between cinema and technology, and an emerging modern visual culture. Film culture, the avant-garde movements, the historical factors of exhibition and criticism, and the spectator’s experience throughout film history are recurrent themes in his work. In this interview, Malte Hagener and Annie van den Oever talk with Gunning about his writing process and his inspirations, the people he considers his mentors (Annette Michelson, Jay Leyda, Eileen Bowser, and David Francis), the legendary 1978 FIAF conference in Brighton, and the future of film studies.

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Hagener, Malte; van den Oever, Annie: The past is always changing: An interview with Tom Gunning. In: NECSUS_European Journal of Media Studies, Jg. 11 (2022), Nr. 2, S. 150-174. DOI:
 author = {Hagener, Malte and van den Oever, Annie},
 title = {The past is always changing: An interview with Tom Gunning},
 year = 2022,
 doi = "\url{}",
 volume = 11,
 journal = {NECSUS_European Journal of Media Studies},
 number = 2,
 pages = {150--174},
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