Name: Carleigh Morgan
Supervisor: John David Rhodes
I specialise in research on animation, production studies, special effects, media theory, and film history. More broadly, I am interested in questions of digital materiality; film historiography; technologies and techniques of filmmaking; automation and procedural art; labour; feminist theory; new media; aesthetic theory; and visual culture. My work is highly interdisciplinary in scope and approaches both research and teaching with an anamorphic lens to make creative contributions to film and media studies.
Carleigh Morgan (she/they) is a Trinity College Research Scholar, Fulbright Scholar (2013-2014) and first-generation scholar completing a PhD in Film and Screen Studies. Her doctoral thesis explores the relationship between cinematic labour and cinematic materiality through the lens of animated filmmaking. This year she was awarded a Methods Fellowship with Cambridge Digital Humanities, where she delivered a short programme exploring the intractability of transparency as a contemporary strategy of mediation and obfuscation in digital culture. She currently teaches and supervises at the University of Cambridge and dedicates her spare time to Cambridge Reproduction, an interdisciplinary strategic research network, where she works as co-coordinator for the Early Career Researcher Seminar Series; serves as Postgraduate Representative on the network’s Steering Committee; and sits on the application evaluation committee for its Incubator Fund Scheme.
Diagramming the intersections between representations of work and the work of representation, my doctoral thesis tracked how animation has historically mediated technological transformations in film production through self-reflexive engagements with the process of animated filmmaking. Contrary to claims that self-reflexivity characterised only the period of early animation, my thesis— ‘Work in Motion: Labour and Aesthetic Production in the Animated Film Industry’— argued that animation’s distinctive turn towards self-reflexivity does not vanish with the disappearance of the animator from the frame: rather, animation enduringly works through tensions between autonomy and automation; movement and mechanisation; labour and alienation at moments of significant historical transition and technological transformation in filmmaking. In so doing, the entire history of animated filmmaking indexes questions about the practice and the performance of image-making at moments of significant historical transition and technological transformation in the cinematic mode of production. Therefore, self-reflexivity is not a singular feature of early animation: it recurs throughout animation history to structure, visualise, and articulate the conflicts that arise when the process of animated filmmaking is historically reconfigured by its formalisation, rationalisation, and flexibilization as an industry This work offers incisive interventions into the technology, history, and historiography of film and raises important questions for film studies about its relationship to animation and media theory in the digital age.
My master’s thesis— an aesthetic critique of glitch art in digital culture— earned a Distinction from King’s College London and laid the groundwork for a constellation of subsidiary research interests, which include cybernetic literature and video games; internet cultures and subcultures; hierarchies and networks of digital production; and internet aesthetics.
Building on my doctoral research, my postdoctoral project makes the case for understanding cinema as an assistive reproductive technology. It brings together production studies, animation studies, and queer theory to discuss how novel, experimental, and avant-garde animations seize on reproduction as one of their persistent cinematic preoccupations. By embracing the reproductive capacities of film as a method for enacting queer reproduction, animation surpasses the limits of biology to make alternative social formations and anthrogenetic forms of reproduction visible onscreen.
University of Cambridge
Postgraduate Research Grant, Trinity College
Postgraduate Funding Award, Trinity College
Language-Learning Grant, University of Cambridge Language Centre
Fieldwork Funding Grant, Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages and Linguistics
Language-Learning Grant, Trinity College
Trinity College External Research Studentship
King’s College London
Global Summer Experiences Award for Language Study
Language-Learning Merit Award
London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP) Workshop Grant (LAHP)
Events grant from London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP)
William J. Fulbright Scholarship Award, United States Fulbright Commission
Wake Forest University
Emily Crandall Shaw Award for Achievement in Literature
Junius C and Eliza P Brown Scholarship for Academic Merit
Undergraduate Humanities Research Fellowship
Maya Angelou Award for Distinguished Performance in the Arts
Academic Scholarship for Language-Learning Abroad
Academic Merit Scholarship
Winston-Salem Foundation Tuition Grant
Methods Fellowship, Cambridge Digital Humanities
I have taught at the University of Cambridge for five years, where I have worked as both a supervisor for and casual lecturer for the Comparative European Cinema paper. I have also been invited to guest lecture at several Russell Group universities on subjects ranging from videogame aesthetics to digital labour. My experience as a teacher includes supervising undergraduates; conducting seminars; delivering lectures; leading researcher training sessions; developing writing workshops; providing one-on-one skills sessions; convening interdisciplinary reading groups; and undertaking tutorials. In addition to this body of pedagogical experience, I have also taught a suite of creative writing courses for international students; offered private tutoring; and conducted training workshops in researcher engagement and communication. As a Fulbright Scholar, I oversaw the implementation of a TEFL programme at a university in Turkey; worked as an English Language Lecturer; and taught conversational skills to Erasmus students. I hold Associate Fellow accreditation from the UK Higher Education Academy, with plans to apply for Fellowship level certification next academic calendar year. Disability justice, creative collaboration, and egalitarianism are cornerstones of my teaching philosophy. I derive a deep sense of purpose and gratification from the experiences of teaching and mentoring.
Conference papers (select)
‘Labouring Images: Early Cinema and the Parthenogenetic Imagination,’ Queer Research Colloquium, University of Cambridge (2022)
‘Production Babies: Gestational Labour in Pixar’s “Fun Factory,”’ University of Cambridge (2022)
‘Theorising Transparency in Digital Culture,’ Digital Humanities Methods Fellowship Symposium, University of Cambridge (2022)
‘Camera Work: Photography and Animation in Winsor McCay’s Gertie the Dinosaur (1914),’ British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies (BAFTSS) Conference (2021)
Playing with Pixels: Digital Materiality in “Datamoshing,”’ Digital Art Research Symposium, CRASSH, University of Cambridge, (2019)
‘Rethinking Glitch: A Lesson from Compression Hacking,’ transmediale, Berlin (2019)
‘Automatic Reproductions of the World: Photography as Automation in Early Animated Filmmaking,’ Centre for Film & Screen PhD Showcase, University of Cambridge (2019)
‘Troubling the Accident: Notes on Compression Hacking,’ Machine Feeling Conference, CRASSH, University of Cambridge, (2019)
‘The Politics of Reproduction in Blade Runner 2049,’ World Picture Conference, University of Cambridge (2018)
‘Digitally Divided: Reconsidering the Avatar in Game Studies,’ International Autobiography Association (IABA) European Conference: Life Writing and New Media, King’s College London (2018)
‘Disembodied Media: Virtual Reality and Outsourced Bodily Labour,’ Embodying Media, CRASSH, University of Cambridge (2018)
‘Bodies in Absentia: Gig Workers in Critiques of Platform Economies, ‘The Digital Everyday, King’s College London (2018)
‘Keywords for the Trump Era,’ European & British Association for American Studies (EBAAS) Conference, King’s College London (2018)
‘Camera Work: Photography and the Automation of Animation in Winsor McCay’s Gertie the Dinosaur (1914).’ Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal (undertaking revisions).
Review of Hollywood Math and Aftermath: The Economic Image and the Digital Recession by JD Connor in Film Studies 22 (2020), 162-164.
‘Calculated Failure? Glitch art, compression artefacts, and digital materiality,’ in APRJA: Machine Feeling Special Issue 8, no. 1, (2019): 204-217.
‘Run Diagnostics? Rethinking the Aetiology of Glitches,’ in Machine Feeling: A Peer Reviewed Newspaper, vol. 8, no. 1, (2019): 40.
Articles in Progress
‘Belaboured Images: The Magic of Reproductive Labour in Early Cinema’s Trick Films’
‘Debugging Film: Between Digital Materiality and Insect Life in Experimental Animation’
‘Crowd Control: Mass Ornament as Cinematic Special Effect