Ara Osterweil

 Ara Osterweil
Contact Information
514-398-4400 Ext. 00901
Email address: 
ara.osterweil [at]

Arts 205
Arts Building
853 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, QC H3A 0G5

Faculty Members
Associate Professor; Director of World Cinema Minor Program
Cultural Studies
Specialization by geographical area: 
United States
Specialization by time period: 
Film & Television
Archives & Bibliography
Critical Theory
Areas of interest: 

cinema and art of the postwar and contemporary period; world cinema; avant-garde art; experimental film and literature; abstraction; aesthetics; gender and sexuality; autofiction; American cinema; the 1960s.  


I am a writer, painter, and scholar of 20th-21st century film and art. I am also an art and film critic who believes in the communicative power of public writing, as can be gleaned from my regular contributions to Artforum and other publications. Although I consider myself as much an artist as an academic, I was trained in the history and theory of cinema, critical theory, and American literature. I find it impossible to consider aesthetics without also considering their political implications. It should thus come as no surprise that I favor politically radical and formally experimental aesthetics over mainstream culture. Some of the central questions that animate my research are: What are the politics of form in this artwork? How do these politics inform the work’s meaning and mode of address? And—since I often write in the first person—how does my own individual investment in work dynamize or complicate my understanding of it? In addition to writing extensively about avant-garde film, I also write about queer sexuality, gender, and motherhood in cinematic and artistic representations of the postwar period.  

I am currently completing two book projects, both of which I have grappled with for nearly a decade. The first, The Pedophilic Imagination: A History of American Cinema, is a revisionary account that foregrounds the integral role that representations of intergenerational and interracial intimacy have played in the development of American cinema. My other book, an experimental memoir entitled Between Her Body and the Stain, is a love letter to my dead mother that tries to come to terms with the contradictions of grief, desire, caretaking, and creativity.  


Ph.D., Rhetoric (University of California, Berkeley) 
M.A., Cinema Studies (New York University, Tisch School of the Arts)
B.A. summa cum laude, English & Philosophy (New York University)

Selected publications: 


The Pedophilic Imagination: A History of American Film (Forthcoming, Duke University Press)

Flesh Cinema: The Corporeal Turn in American Avant-Garde Film (University of Manchester, 2014)


Articles and Chapters

“Staged Mothers: Alice Neel,” Artforum, Summer 2021. 

“Invasion of the Child Snatchers: Dramas of Pedophilic Seduction in New Queer Cinema,” The Oxford Guide to Queer Cinema, ed. Ronald Gregg and Amy Villarejo. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021. 

“The Last Word: Dorothy Dean in Andy Warhol’s My Hustler,” Art Journal, December 2019. 

“America Year Zero: Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks,” Artforum, January, 2017: 190-197. 

“Sons, Mothers, and Lovers: Andy Warhol and Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Queer Home Movies,” Artforum, May 2017. 

“Fuck You: A Feminist Guide to Surviving the Artworld,Artforum, Summer, 2016: 320-329. 

“On (and Off) the Couch,” Warhol in Ten Takes, ed. Glyn Davis and Gary Needham. British Film Institute, 2013; 46-65. 

Public Scholarship, Creative Nonfiction, and Public Talks

“Between Her Body and the Stain,” Los Angeles Review of Books, July 2017.  

Interview in Maake magazine, Issue 14, 2022. 

“I’m No More Your Mother Than…: Painting, Writing, Motherhood,” Border Crossings, Issue 158. January, 2022. 

“The Aesthetics of Care,” University of Toronto, Centre for Ethics, Toronto, Canada. 

“Andy Warhol: Porn Realist,” Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum, Berlin, Germany.

Awards, honours, and fellowships: 
  • Kraszna Krausz Book Award: Best Moving Book Award of 2022 (UK’s Leading Prize) for The Films of Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonne: 1963-1965, (ed. John Handhardt. Yale University Press, 2021.)  
  • SSHRC Insight Development Grant, 2021-2017 
  • Louis Dudek Award for Excellence in Teaching, English Department, McGill University, 2013 
  • Andy Warhol Foundation, Creative Capital, 2011, 2016 
Graduate supervision: 

I would welcome expressions of interest from graduate students interested in the history, aesthetics, and politics of American and world cinema; postwar and contemporary art; avant-garde and experimental aesthetics; as well as autofiction and auto-theory. I also would welcome expressions of interest from graduate students interested in pursuing the creative option of the MA program. 

Taught previously at: 

Muhlenberg College, Pennsylvania, U.S.
University of California, Berkeley, U.S. 

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