College: Newnham

Research topic: New Hollywood: History, Style and Meaning in the films of Mike Nichols, Elaine May, and John Cassavetes

Supervisor: Prof John David Rhodes


Jessica joined Cambridge Film and Screen as a PhD student after completing an MSt in Film Aesthetics at the University of Oxford. Whilst at Oxford, she completed a dissertation on female presence and the possibilities of mise-en-scène in John Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence and Barbara Loden’s Wanda.

Prior to this, Jessica completed a BA in English at the University of Kent with a year at Freie Universität Berlin. Jessica’s interdisciplinary background in English and Film has inspired a range of research interests, which include European cinema, American cinema, film aesthetics, narratology, close reading, and literary studies.


Through the interconnected filmographies of Nichols, May, and Cassavetes, Jessica’s research focuses on examining a ‘loose’ style of narrative filmmaking to enable a fresh reading of the New Hollywood era, the type of films it produced, and their place in the broader genealogy of American cinema. Jessica’s research is bifurcated: on one hand, it is an inquiry into the entwined artistic pursuits of the late sixties and early seventies and into the abovementioned New Hollywood, and, on the other, it offers an original evaluation of the aesthetic and methodological affinities across three filmographies of varied acclaim and scholarly prominence.

In other research, Jessica has written about modes of play and fabulation in Jacques Rivette’s Céline et Julie vont en bateau; about the emotional contours of style in Yasujirō Ozu’s Late Spring; and about cinemas of ephemerality, specifically in David Lean’s Brief Encounter, Agnès Varda’s Cléo de 5 à 7 and Chantal Akerman’s Saute ma ville.


  • Vice-Chancellor’s and Newnham College Scholarship (Cambridge Trust, University of Cambridge, full funding for doctoral research)
  • Worcester College Distinction Prize (University of Oxford)
  • Humanities Rotary Prize (University of Kent, for the top ranked undergraduate student on the BA English and American Literature programme)

Other activities and roles:

Outside academia, Jessica is the founding editor-in-chief of a journal of film criticism; she has written essays for editorial outlets, including MUBI Notebook; she has attended various film festivals as a press delegate and worked as a pre-selection juror; and she has worked as a private literature tutor and in admissions at the University of Oxford.

Cambridge Film & Screen

Tel: +44 (0)1223 760355