Charlie Keil

Principal, Innis College; Professor, Department of History and Cinema Studies
Affiliated Faculty, CSUS


Innis College, Room 124, 2 Sussex Ave.



Charlie Keil is the Principal of Innis College, past Director of the Cinema Studies Institute, and a Professor in the History Department at the University of Toronto. He has published extensively on the topic of early cinema, especially the pivotal ‘transitional era’ of the 1910s, in such books as Early American Cinema in Transition (2001); American Cinema’s Transitional Era (2004, co-edited with Shelley Stamp); American Cinema of the 1910s (2008, co-edited with Ben Singer), Beyond the Screen: Institutions, Networks and Publics of Early Cinema (2012, co-edited with Marta Braun, Rob King, Paul Moore, and Louis Pelletier), and, most recently, The Companion to D.W. Griffith (2018).

He has also published on other aspects of American cinema, including the relationship between humour and animation, in Funny Pictures: Animation and Comedy in Studio-Era Hollywood (2011, co-edited with Daniel Goldmark), and the related crafts of Editing and Special/Visual Effects (2016, co-edited with Kristen Whissel), a volume in the Behind the Silver Screen series.  His current projects are The Oxford Handbook of Silent Cinema, co-edited with Rob King, and a study of the origins of Hollywood, as both moviemaking site and cultural concept, in collaboration with Denise McKenna.

research interests

Early and silent cinema
Contemporary cinema
Craft and Institutional histories


Ph. D University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1995
M. A. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1985
B.A. University of Toronto, 1981

awards and distinctions

Society for Cinema and Media Studies Distinguished Pedagogy Award, 2019
Faculty of Arts & Science Outstanding Teaching Award, 2015
Chancellor Jackman Research Fellowship in the Humanities, 2010-11
TVO Lecturer of the Year Finalist, Top 20, 2006
Richard Wall Memorial Award, Theatre Library Association, Finalist, 2002

selected publications

“Editing and the Institutionalization of Cinema, 1913-1917.” Co-authored with Nick Shaw. Cinémas, 28, 2-3 (2019), pp. 111-30.

“Risky Business: The Early Film Actor and Discourses of Danger.” Co-authored with Denise McKenna.  In Viscera, Skin and Physical Form: Corporeality and Early Cinema. Ed. Jan Olsson, Marina Dahlquist, Doron Galili, and Valentine Robert. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2018, pp. 119-133.

“The Movies: The Transitional Era.” In American Literature in Transition, 1910-1920. Ed. Mark W. Van Wienen. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018, pp. 312-326.

“The Silent Screen, 1895-1927: Cecil B. DeMille Shapes the Director’s Role.” In Behind the Silver Screen: Directing. Ed. Virginia Wright Wexman. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2017, pp. 26-47.

“George Cukor and the Case of an Actor’s Director: Hepburn and/or Tracy in Little WomenThe ActressKeeper of the FlameAdam’s Rib, and Pat and Mike.” In George Cukor: Hollywood Master. Ed. Murray Pomerance and R. Barton Palmer. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 107-23.

“Leo Rosencrans, Movie-Struck Boy: A (Half-)Year in the Life of a Hollywood Extra.” Film History 26, 2 (2014), pp. 31-51.

“Acting Like a Star:  Florence Turner, Picture Personality.”  In Theorizing Film Acting. Ed. Aaron Taylor.  New York:  Routledge, 2012, pp. 201-09.

“D.W. Griffith and the Development of American Narrative Cinema.”  In The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film.  Ed. Cynthia Lucia, Arthur Simon, and Roy Grundmann.  Oxford:  Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2012, pp. 130-54.

“Narration in the Transitional Cinema:  The Historiographical Claims of the Unauthored Text.” Cinémas 21, 3 (Spring 2011), pp. 106-30.


Issues in Silent Cinema (graduate)
Key Developments in Film History (graduate)
Film Historiography (graduate)
Film Noir (undergraduate)
American Filmmaking in the Studio Era (undergraduate)
Film Cultures I (undergraduate)
Introduction to Film Study (undergraduate)




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