A photo of Kalani Michell

Kalani Michell

Assistant Professor

E-mail: michell@humnet.ucla.edu Office: Royce Hall 328

Office Hours: Mon, 9:00am-11:00am

Fields of interest: film and media studies, media theory and historiography, installation and performance art

Kalani Michell is Assistant Professor in the Department of European Languages and Transcultural Studies at the University of California Los Angeles. Prior to this, she worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the research collective (Graduiertenkolleg) “Configurations of Film” and as an Assistant Professor (wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin) in Media Studies at the Goethe University Frankfurt. She has taught and written about a wide range of media, including photography, comics, installation and performance art, print culture, film and media theory, sound studies, and media historiography.

Currently, she is preparing her monograph, Media Among Themselves: Unboxing Audiovisual Media from the 1960s and 1970s, which thematizes a range of media processes typically understood as merely additive or preparatory for a discrete “work of art” in the making. Boring prerequisites for something more valuable yet to come. But why might we be hesitant to openly acknowledge the range of formalities, legitimating operations, better alternatives, micro-decisions, and false starts – the long waits, copyright battles, endless drafts and delivery delays, packaging problems, and paperwork – that affect the conditions of possibility for “actual” creative artistic work? Once we begin to look at the work these media processes do among themselves, meaning not only in relation to highbrow, legitimated artistic media forms, these tedious tasks suddenly become more complex and quite intriguing to look at. This book helps visualize the messiness and indiscreetness of the creative process by attending to such crucial, if overlooked media processes and their influence on the canonization and institutionalization of audiovisual media such as performance and installation art, visual art, and film.

In addition to working on this project, she has published on a variety of art and media topics, such as the circulation of the Mona Lisa in the set design of pornographic productions (in CineAction), the emergence of academic podcasts in film and media studies (in Format Matters), and conformist expectations of captions for photographs and film stills in scholarly texts (in New Perspectives on Academic Writing). Her research on German cinema has examined concepts of surveillance, memory, and home movies in Thomas Heise’s Barluschke (in East, West and Centre), invisibility techniques in a sci-fi film from the Third Reich (in Continuity and Crisis), and the comics storyboard and sketch aesthetic in Christian Petzold’s filmic shot composition (in Storyboarding). Her latest research projects focus on the backside of paintings, disciplinary yearbooks, and video conferencing interfaces: the Antiguan studio photographs on the versos of Frank Walter’s miniature European landscape paintings (in liquid blackness), ways of reassembling a collective image of disciplinary belonging by emphasizing questions of reception in German-speaking contexts (in New German Critique), and the epistemic values inscribed into new media environments of remote learning (in Video Conferencing).


  • Ph.D. University of Minnesota. German Studies and minor in Moving Image Studies
  • M.A. University of Minnesota. German Studies
  • B.A. University of Nevada, Reno. German Studies and International Affairs

Selected Publications



  • Review: “Animierte Bildkulissen,” rev. of Curtains (2014) by Lucy Raven at the Portikus Exhibition Hall, in Texte zur Kunst 97, issue on “Bohème” (March 2015), 183-186.
  • Review: New Austrian Film, eds. Robert von Dassanowsky and Oliver C. Speck, in Austrian Studies Newsletter 23.2 (Fall 2011), 17-18.

Courses commonly taught

Undergraduate Courses:

  • Ger 159: Transatlantic Bauhaus
  • Ger 104: German Films You Won’t Find at the Oscars
  • Ger 104: Unradical German Films of the 1960s/1970s
  • Ger 110: What’s Happening in German Media Studies?
  • Ger 103: Lubitsch Touch-Quatsch
  • Ger 110: Media Environments and German Palm Tree Dreams
  • Ger 191A: Speculative Ways of Writing History
  • Ger 104: Writing in German Film

Graduate Courses:

  • Ger 261: Comparative Media Studies
  • Ger 263: Where is Photography?
  • Ger 213: Paperwork in Film Work
  • ELTS 208: Text-Image Relationships

Honors and Awards

  • UCLA Society of Hellman Fellows award (2022-2023)
  • Council on Research Faculty Research Grant (2022-2023)
  • EPIC Mellon Fellow for Environmental Humanities Seminar in Teaching Excellence (2022)
  • Council on Research Bridge Research Grant (2021-2022)
  • Faculty Career Development Award (2020-2021) 
  • Council on Research Faculty Research Grant (2020-2021)
  • Fulbright Research Grant (2014-2015)
  • Harold Leonard Memorial Fellowship in Film Study (2013-2014)
  • Center for Austrian Studies Research Fellowship for archival project on Valie Export (2013)
  • Hella Lindemeyer Mears Fellowship (2010-2011)
  • Center for German and European Studies Fellowship for the Leo Baeck Summer University in Jewish Studies (2009)
  • Max Kade Fellowship (2008-2009)
  • Fulbright Scholar (2007-2008)

Professional Activities

  • Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Vertretungsprofessorin (Interim Professor) for Film Studies, Summer Semester 2022
  • Member of the Chicano Studies Research Center Faculty Advisory Committee (2020-present)
  •  Editorial board member of Configurations of Film book series with Meson Press (2019-present)