Shawn Shimpach

Associate Professor
Interim Director of the Interdepartmental Film Studies Program
N332 Integrative Learning Center
Spring 2017 office hours: Tu 12:00-3:00 & by appt.
413 545-2341

My research interests include the cultural history of film, television, and media; the social and institutional constructions of the media audience; genre theory and screen genres; and screen industries. My work focuses on the value and meanings created at the conjuncture of cultural, institutional, and textual practice. My book Television in Transition: The Life and Afterlife of the Narrative Action Hero (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010) combines and connects analysis of the contemporary television industry with close readings of four individual programs to explain how innovation takes place and meaning is produced amidst changing institutional configurations. My work has also appeared in Cultural Studies, Social Semiotics, American Quarterly, and such collections as Media and Public Spheres (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), the Handbook of Media Audiences (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), and the Routledge Companion to Global Popular Culture (Routledge, 2015).

As a faculty member, I am also affiliated with the Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies; the Five College Film Council; and the American Studies Program.


PhD, Cinema Studies, New York University

Courses Taught: 

Undergraduate: Film Styles & Genres; Introduction to Film Studies; Film History; Television in Transition.

Graduate: Media Historiography; Hollywood Industry & Style; Television Studies: Text, Culture, Industry


Television in Transition: The Life and Afterlife of the Narrative Action Hero, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.  

"The Metrics, reloaded," in Toby Miller (ed.), Routledge Companion to Global Popular Culture, Routledge, 2015.

"'This is What I Need, This is What Will Travel': Television Programs in the Era of Transition." In Vicki Mayer (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies: Media Production (Volume II),  Wiley-Blackwell, 2013, 192-214.

"Realty Reality: HGTV and the Subprime Crisis." American Quarterly 63:3, September 2012, 515-542.

"Viewing," in Virginia Nightingale (ed.), Handbook of Media Audiences, Wiley-Blackwell (part of the Handbooks in Global Media and Communication Series), 2011, 62-85.

"Representing the Pubilc of the Cinema's Public Sphere," in Richard Butsch (ed.), Media and Public Spheres, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, 136-148.

"Working Watching: The Creative and Cultural Labor of the Media Audience," Social Semiotics 15:3, December 2005, 343-360.

"The Immortal Cosmopolitan: The International Co-production and Global Circulation of Highlander: The Series," Cultural Studies 19:3, May 2005, 338-371.  

Current Projects: 

Work in progress: My next book, Pleasant Pastimes for Unoccupied People: Inventing the Motion Picture Audience, is currently in progress.  It links the social shape of the emerging cinema in the first decades of the twentieth-century to the concurrently professionalizing discourse of the pre-social sciences in the U.S. to show how the screen audience emerged as a categorically new way of knowing people that conforms to the needs of global mass cultural production.  Current work also includes a collaborative project investigating and theorizing the complex afterlife of cultural objects in an era characterized by both the intended and unintended continuing circulation of culture and I have written the "Hollywood" and "Disney" entries for Scribner's America in the World, 1776 to the Present.