Research

GeneTierney

Gene Tierney in Laura (1944)

Combining methods of cultural studies with interpretations of individual films, I research and write about studio era Hollywood cinema (roughly from the late 1920s to the early 1960s). Actress Gene Tierney and director Nicholas Ray, the two principle subjects of my scholarship since arriving at Syracuse University, reflect a larger interest in stardom and performance, authorship, and representation from that period. On a more conceptual level, I am interested in aesthetic practice, personality, and celebrity as interfaces between classical Hollywood and the culture of modernity in the middle of the twentieth century. Currently, I am writing a book under the tentative title, Out of a Misty Dream: Gene Tierney, Female Stardom, and Hollywood’s Homefront. Promoted as “the most beautiful woman in movie history,” Tierney starred in films such as Laura (1944), Leave Her to Heaven (1945), and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), but also became one of the first stars to battle mental illness publicly. This project examines her star-making at Twentieth Century-Fox during World War II and the immediate years that followed, while seeking to understand an alternative history of war effort and postwar trauma that defined and regulated her image across the roles of pin-up model and working-woman, war bride, maternal domestic, and female psychiatric subject. I am also the author of American Stranger: Modernisms, Hollywood, and the Cinema of Nicholas Ray and, with Steven Rybin, the co-editor of Lonely Places, Dangerous Ground: Nicholas Ray in American Cinema.