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Ramona Curry

Associate Professor Emerita


Through her retirement from university teaching at the end of 2018, Ramona Curry designed and delivered courses on the histories, theories, and strategies for writing about cinema and other forms of popular media and culture. histories, theories, and strategies for writing about cinema and other forms of popular media and culture.  Her ongoing research focuses on the sociocultural impact of media institutions, including film stars and cinema distribution and exhibition historically. She has written extensively about German and more recently about Hong Kong cinema of the mid-20th century. She is author of Too Much of a Good Thing: Mae West as Cultural Icon  (U of Minnesota P, 1996) and numerous essays that have appeared in U.S. and international anthologies and journals, including Cinema JournalThe Journal of Women’s HistoryJournal of Film and Video, and Camera Obscura

Prof. Curry taught at Hong Kong Baptist University as the recipient of a 2004 Fulbright Award and spent Spring 2015 as the "Fulbright Distinguished Chair of American Studies" at Uppsala University in Sweden. She is currently completing a monograph entitled Trading in Cultural Spaces: How Chinese Film Came to America, which takes an urban cultural geographic and historiographic approach to rewriting American cinema history “from the margins.”  The archive-research-intensive project has received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (2008, 2011) and the University of Illinois Mid-Career Faculty Release Time Award (2014). 

Research Interests

  • issues of gender, race/ethnicity and class in media
  • theories and practices in media genre
  • cross-cultural media adaptations
  • popular culture/media stars
  • international and American cinema history
  • historiography of cinema

Research Description

Abstract for the NEH-Funded monograph project Trading in Cultural Spaces:  How Chinese Film Came to America.Cinema scholars have well documented how movies "made in the USA"have dominated screens internationally for 90 years, but as yetinsufficiently addressed the historical and on-going impact of intra-regional and community-based media circuits around the globe thatdo not fit the “West to the Rest” model.  Curry's book-in-progress, entitled “Trading in Cultural Spaces: How Chinese FIlm Came to America” draws on dense archival research to document individuals, practices, and locales comprising an unwritten strand of American film history: the trans-Pacific flow of Chinese movies into and within the U.S.  From the early 20th century such films have challenged stereotypes and forged avenues for cross-cultural exchange. By recovering multiple Chinese American and supporting voices, images and multicultural networks, my project aims to refocus cinema history on its prior margins, to enrich transnational and national film and social histories and make intellectual contributions consonant with the NEH "We the People" and "Bridging Cultures" initiatives. 


  • B.A. University of Chicago
  • M.A. University of Tuebingen, Germany;
  • Ph.D. Radio/TV/Film, Northwestern University;

Courses Taught

  • Graduate seminar and undergraduate honors seminar on Theories of Popular Culture
  • Undergraduate honors seminar on "Violence and Sex in Popular Culture"
  • Graduate seminar on Theories of Cinema and the Historiography of Cinema
  • Professional seminar in the Teaching of Film
  • Undergraduate topics courses, in including "Feminism and Film," "Documentary Approaches to Cinema," and "The Disney Phenomenon from Aesthetic, Cultural, and Economic Perspectives"
  • Writing intensive courses on "Writing Film Criticism" and "Transmedia Adaptations: From Written Word to Screen"
  • General education courses including "Asian Film Genres"
  • Courses on German cinema history
  • Introductory and intermediate film studies courses, including "Introduction to Film" and "American Cinema Since 1950"

Highlighted Publications


Transnational and Diasporic Cinema Oxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies New York Oxford University Press 2016.


Benjamin Brodsky (1877-1960): The Transpacific American Film Entrepreneur -- Part One, Making A TRIP THRU CHINA Journal of American-East Asian Relations 18 1 2011, p. 58-94. Link to access via JStor.

Benjamin Brodsky (1877-1960): The Trans-Pacific American Film Entrepreneur – Part Two, Taking A TRIP THRU CHINA to America Journal of American - East Asian Relations 18 2 2011, p. 142-180. Journal website.


Making Connections: Benjamin Brodsky and Early Trans-Pacific Cinema Historiography Chinese Cinema: Tracing the Origins (in Chinese) edited by Ain-ling Wong. Hong Kong Hong Kong Film Archive 2011, p. 94-109. Review.

Bridging the Pacific with Love Eterne China Forever: The Shaw Brothers and Diasporic Cinema edited by Poshek Fu. Urbana University of Illinois Press 2008, p. 174-198. Catalog link.


Curry, Ramona Reviving the History, Revising the Historiography of Female Media Pioneers Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood; The Girl from God’s Country; Nell Shipman and the Silent Cinema; It’s One O’Clock and Here Is Mary Margaret McBride; The First Lady of Hollywood: A Biography of Louella Parsons. Journal of Women’s History 21 3 2009, p. 188-203. Journal websitejournal website.


Curry, Ramona Too Much of a Good Thing: Mae West as Cultural Icon Minneapolis University of Minnesota Press 1996. Press website.