Alison Griffiths is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Baruch College, The City University of New York and the CUNY Graduate Center, where she teaches film history, visual studies, and media theory. Griffiths is an internationally recognized scholar whose monographs and over 35 scholarly articles and book chapters have had a major impact on the fields of anthropology, cultural history, cinema studies, nineteenth century visual culture, and new media studies.
Griffiths has lectured internationally, and was a visiting professor in the Department of Cinema Studies in Stockholm in 2009. She has given talks across Europe, Latin America, Scandinavia, and North America and is considered an expert on the history of ethnographic film.
Griffiths is the recipient of multiple awards: her first book, Wondrous Difference: Cinema, Anthropology, and Turn-of-the-Century Visual Culture” (Columbia University Press, 2002) won the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Best Dissertation Award (1999), the Katherine Kovacs award for the Best Book in Film and Studies (2003) and Honorary Mention for the Krazna-Krausz Moving Image Book Award (2004).
Her second book, Shivers Down Your Spine: Cinema, Museums, and the Immersive View (Columbia University Press, 2008), confirmed her expertise in interdisciplinary research across the fields of art history, museum studies, and media archaeology.
Griffiths’ most recent book, Carceral Fantasies: Cinema and Prison in Early Twentieth-Century America (Columbia University Press, 2016), tells the little-known story of how cinema found a home in the US penitentiary and how the prison and capital punishment emerged as settings and narrative tropes in modern cinema.
Griffiths won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2018 for her fourth book, Nomadic Cinema: A Cultural Geography of the Expedition Film. In spring 2019 she was in residence as a Mayer Fellow at the Huntington Library in Los Angeles. “Nomadic Cinema” was also awarded a Project Development Grant by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) in 2018.
In 2022, Griffiths received a Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Arctic Studies to Norway. She will be in residence at the National Library of Norway in Oslo examining early films made of Sámi peoples as well as cartographic objects. This research forms part of a new book project on cinema and cultural memory.
The recipient of grants from the Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society, the Institute for Citizens and Scholars, the NEH, the Eugene Lang Foundation, and the Felix Gross Foundation, Griffiths holds a bachelor’s degree from Leicester University, a master’s from the University of London, and a Ph.D. from New York University. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.