Nic Sammond

Professor, Cinema Studies Institute
Room 231

Innis College, 2 Sussex Ave.

Headshot of Nic Sammond

Areas of interest

  • Popular culture
  • Cinema and media studies
  • Early animation
  • Racial formation


Main Bio

Nicholas Sammond studies the cultural history and political economy of popular film and media. His previous book, Babes in Tomorrowland: Walt Disney and the Making of the American Child, 1930-1960 (Duke University Press, 2005) charted the circulation of concepts of childhood through popular child-rearing and the public relations and films of Walt Disney Productions. It won the 2006 Society of Cinema and Media Studies Katherine Singer Kovacs award for the most important contribution to the field. Professor Sammond is also the editor of the volume Steel Chair to the Head: the Pleasure and Pain of Professional Wrestling (Duke University Press, 2005). His newest book, Birth of an Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Rise of American Animation (Duke University Press, 2015) explores the historical relationship between blackface minstrelsy and the origins of the American animation industry. An online companion to that work, containing all of the media discussed in the book, is available at Professor Sammond has also created the Early Animation Wiki (, a research tool developed in collaboration with, and an animation research station in the Innis College Library that offers access to thousands of rare film shorts, original artwork, and biographical and bibliographic information on animators and animation studios.

Professor Sammond regularly teaches courses on film and media history, animation, film and cultural practice, comedy, and media and childhood. At the graduate level, he teaches courses on cinema and culture, media and racial formation, media archaeology and film theory.

Select publications

  • Birth of An Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Rise of American Animation (Duke University Press, 2015).
  • “Touched by Le Roy: Teens, Tourettes, and YouTube in the Twilight of Neoliberalism.” WSQ (Winter 2015).
  • “Gentlemen, Please Be Seated: Racial Masquerade and Sadomasochism in 1930s Animation.” Stephen Johnson, ed. Burnt Cork: Traditions and Legacies of Blackface Minstrelsy (University of Massachusetts Press, 2012).
  • “Walt Disney’s Dumbo: Governing Individualism.” In Julia Mickenberg and Lynn Vallone, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Children’s Literature (Oxford University Press, 2011).
  • Babes in Tomorrowland: Walt Disney and the making of the American child, 1930-1960. (Duke University Press, 2005).

Awards & recognition

  • Singer Kovacs Award of Distinction (2017)
  • Dean’s Award for Excellence, University of Toronto (2006, 2013)
  • NEH/Mellon Digitial Humanities Fellowship (2011)
  • Jackman Humanities Institute Research Fellowship (2009-2010)
  • Katherine Singer Kovacs Award, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, 2006.
  • George Haydu Prize for the Study of Culture, Behavior, and Human Values, University of California, San Diego (1999)


American Popular Film
Children in Media
Pressures on the Cinematic
Origins of American Animation
Animation After 1950
Comedy and Social Discourse
History Mediated
Film and the Geography of Racial Imagination
Theories of Cinema
The Revolution Will/Won’t Be Televised
Theories of the Viewing Subject