Research Topic: Geology in documentary moving images

Toby is a second-year PhD student at Cambridge Film and Screen. He studied for the MPhil in Film and Screen Studies in 2020-21, writing a dissertation on the performance of indexicality in recent documentary moving-image works about archaeology and geology. Other essays included an argument for a “geologic life” of media, engaging with Jussi Parikka’s geological media archaeologies and Kathryn Yusoff’s reappraisal of the afterlives of geology, an exploration of the place of the araucaria tree in national-ecological documentary film imaginaries in contemporary Chile, and a consideration of the visualisation, in documentary installation film, of cryptocurrency’s contested immateriality. Toby studied Modern and Medieval Languages at the University of Cambridge (2015-2019) and graduated with a First Class with Distinction.



Toby is interested in the way the nonhuman comes to be made perceptible in documentary moving images. His doctoral research concentrates in particular on the intersections of geology and documentary, considering geology’s indexical and archival materialities alongside cinema’s own putative indexicality, while also foregrounding the position of human witnesses within the frame. His research is interdisciplinary, engaging with the history and philosophy of science, geography, archaeology, geology, and continental philosophy, while he retains a keen interest in the visual culture of the Francophone and Hispanophone worlds.



  • Cambridge Trust Vice Chancellor’s Award & Robinson College Lewis Studentship in the Arts and Humanities (2021-2024)
  • Honorary University of Cambridge Jebb Studentship (2021-2024)
  • Albert Goh and Elizabeth Coupe Scholarship (Jesus College, 2020-2021)
  • Ian and Marjory MacFarlane Prize in French (Gonville & Caius College, 2019)
  • Lock Tankard (Gonville & Caius College, 2019)



  • 2021-2023: supervisor for FrB2: Translation from French
  • 2022-2023: supervisor and seminar leader for CS6: European Cinema
  • Toby is currently supervising several Year Abroad Projects (translation from French and Spanish) and Optional Dissertations (CS7: Cinema and the Political), and is happy to hear from potential supervisees.


Conference Papers
‘Tectonic Memories: Indexing the Volcanic Archive’. International Screen Studies Conference (online). 3rd July 2022.



  • ‘Landscape and the Moving Image, by Catherine Elwes’ (book review). Alphaville, 24, December 2022.
  • ‘Tectonic memories: film, geology, and archives in Diana Vidrașcu’s Volcano: What Does a Lake Dream? (2019)’. Studies in World Cinema (Accepted, forthcoming).

Cambridge Film & Screen

Tel: +44 (0)1223 760355