Kathryn Hearst


Kathryn HearstPROFILE

Kate Hearst specializes in cinema & media studies; women’s & gender history; social & cultural history of the U.S. and Europe. Kate is currently working on a book, The Cinema of Barbara Kopple: American Activist. She earned her Ph.D. and M.F.A. in Film, both at Columbia University. Her film work has been screened internationally. Since 2011, Kate has been teaching film history at several colleges, including: Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, Brooklyn College, and the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema in Brooklyn. In 2014, Kate directed & produced a short documentary, Women’s History Today, for the Women’s History Graduate Program at Sarah Lawrence College. (See link below.) She serves as an advisor to the Women Film Pioneers Project (WFPP), a web-based series created by the Columbia University Libraries & Center for Digital Research & Scholarship; and MOMA’s “To Save and Project” film series. Prior to teaching, Kate worked in film & television development at The Polone Company (affiliate of Hearst Entertainment). Currently, she is a member of the Columbia University School of the Arts Advisory Council; Society of Cinema & Media Studies; American Historical Association; The Paley Media Center; Advisory Board of the Center for Conservation & Biodiversity at the American Museum of Natural History.


The Cinema of Barbara Kopple: American Activist. Book in progress.

"Gender Agency in Harlan County USA, Shut Up & Sing: The Dixie Chicks, and This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous," in forthcoming ReFocus: The Films of Barbara Kopple, edited by Jeff Jaeckle and Susan Kozloff, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019).

"Trauma, Healing and the Process of Documentary: An Interview with Barbara Kopple, Film International, 16.3.

Origins of Contemporary Documentary: Harlan County, U.S.A., Forty Years Later.” Presentation of article at the Society of Cinema & Media Studies, March 2017, Chicago.

“Family and Transition: This Is Everything Gigi Gorgeous,Film International, February 9, 2017. http://filmint.nu/?p=20272.

“A Conquering Female Spirit in The Brand New Testament,” Film International, February 6, 2017. http://filmint.nu/?p=20220.

Being 17: Sexual Awakening and Race in the Hautes-Pyrénées, Film International, November 11, 2016. http://filmint.nu/?p=19750.

Miss Sharon Jones!: Success and Other Crises,” Film International, October 25, 2016. http://Filmint.nu/?=19618.

“A Multicultural Magnificent Seven for Our Times,” Film International, October 6, 2016. http://filmint.nu/?p=19527

“Review: Race, Gender, & Film Censorship in Virginia, 1922-1965,” Virginia Magazine of History & Biography, Volume 123, No. 2 (Spring 2016), 179.

“Uncovering Phoebe Hearst’s Life,” Bancroftania, University of California, Berkeley, Fall 2006.



FILM GENRE: The Western, Film Noir & The Romantic Comedy

The Western, Film Noir, and the Romantic Comedy are three enduring Hollywood genres that engage viewer’s imaginations through myth and fantasy. From the studio era to the present, film genres attract audiences with recognizable characters, plots, styles and conventions. In this course, students develop critical understandings of these conventions, and explore how formulaic films can also incorporate social and cultural changes in America. We examine how filmmakers, studios, film critics and scholars participate in creatively reconfiguring formulaic films to engage audience’s fascinations and potentially subvert cultural norms. Students develop a mastery of these three film genres through screenings, critical readings, writings, and lively discussions.  By the end of the semester, students are able to identify the aesthetics and conventions of each of the three film genres, and understand how genre films incorporate industrial, socio-cultural and ideological transformations.

World Cinema, 1960-present.

This course analyzes the history of transnational cinema from the 1960s to the present. Critical moments of innovation and transformation of cinema are studied from around the world, including: the "New Waves" in France and Europe; new documentary and experimental filmmaking; the rise of third Cinema in Latin America; re-inventions in Hollywood; the cinemas of India, China, New Zealand, Denmark and the Middle East; the expansion of independent filmmaking with new visions of race, gender, and sexuality; and finally, the advent of blockbuster co-productions and digital cinema. Cinematic transformation is addresses on multiple levels: formal/ aesthetic, technological, industrial and socio-political. Through close textual analyses of individual films, new formal and stylistic trends are examined. Students develop critical understandings of aesthetic trends and innovations, as well as changes in production, distribution and reception.

Women/Gender, Race, Class & Sexuality in Film and Media: History & Film Theory.

This yearlong seminar analyzes gender, race, sexuality and class in American cinema & media from its origins to the present. Students develop critical understandings of cinema & media, not only as part of film history, but also as vehicles for activism and change. We study cinema & media and assess interpretations, often rooted in feminist & African-American criticism, multicultural & postcolonial theories. A variety of films & media are screened and discussed: early motion pictures, classical Hollywood, woman's films, early and contemporary African-American cinema, avant-garde, film noir, feminist cinema, documentary, queer cinema, action/ adventure, fantasy, global cinema, television & new media.

Activism & Change in Contemporary Women's Biography.

How are biographies mirrors of the world, and windows for activism and change? What is the relationship between the contemporary biographer and historical subject? How are narratives, particularly about women's lives, researched and constructed? How do biographies of women impact our understanding of traditional histories? These are some of the questions addressed in this seminar. Students examine how authors use a variety of primary sources (such as diaries, letters, memoirs, oral histories, musical lyrics), and create often with slim primary source material, full narratives which illuminate history in new ways. Students discuss how contemporary women's biographies have resonance for today's discourses and power relationships of gender, race, class and sexuality.


Director/Producer, Women's History Documentary - Women's History Graduate Program at Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY


Kathryn Hearst Women Film Pioneers Panel, Library Theater Association at Lincoln Center, 2014


Kathryn Hearst at the Paley Center International Summit, 2014

Katie Couric at the Paley Center from Brian Emery on Vimeo.


Kathryn Hearst, Ph.D., M.F.A.-Film
email: katehearst1@gmail.com