Kevin Chabot defended his doctoral dissertation, "Transmedial Ghosts: Paranormal Investigation from Photography to YouTube" on Thursday, July 18, 2019. The committee consisted of Charlie Keil (supervisor), Angelica Fenner, Bart Testa, James Cahill, exam chair Yoonjung Kang, and external examiner Jeffrey A. Sconce (Northwestern University). His dissertation examines the practice of paranormal investigation across media, arguing that ghost hunting tells us much about our cultural and socio-political investment in technologies as compensatory vision, as instruments that harness and reveal the supernatural.
We interviewed Kevin about his interests, as well as his plans for the near future. He says:
While my research interests have generally included horror film, film theory, and intermediality, spectrality as a theoretical framework has opened up exciting new questions for me concerning historiography, temporality, media archaeology, and genealogy. Since embarking on my dissertation project, I have become more interested in the concept of 'evidence' and the vicissitudes of authenticity in relation to media technologies. My scholarly pursuit of ghosts, then, incorporates my love of horror film with pressing questions that shape our current cultural and political moment.
I hope to pursue a career in academia, ideally as a tenure-track assistant professor, or explore careers in cultural arts institutions. I am open to a wide variety of possibilities as I transition from graduate student to working professional, and I am excited to begin this next chapter.
His supervisor, Professor Charlie Keil, has this to say about Kevin:
Kevin Chabot’s thesis, entitled “Transmedial Ghosts: Paranormal Investigation from Photography to YouTube,” studies the horror film, and more particularly, paranormal investigation, to understand the ways that the “ghostly” manifests itself across different media forms. Taking up the question of how a medium can function as a spectral conduit, Kevin’s thesis looks at forms of haunting across film, television, video, and the internet. In the process, he provides incisive analyses of each mode of visualization, assessing its role as a form able to both contain and reveal the imperceptible. Collectively, his chapters constitute an endlessly fascinating consideration of why and how we rely on visual media as a guide to a realm beyond our own powers of perception.
This is smart, well-considered work, and a thesis that bears the marks of its creator’s intellectual evolution. Kevin began with a much different (and less conceptually ambitious) topic, and arrived at its current formulation through a measured process of consistent and rigorous self-assessment and consequent revision. To observe Kevin challenge himself and improve his work has been both exhilarating and humbling, because I have had to do so little to aid in the process. Though extremely modest, Kevin possesses a fertile mind that requires minimal guidance; most of his best ideas are his alone, and he hones and improves them on his own. It has been an unalloyed pleasure to work with Kevin, who is disciplined, motivated, and always brimming with inspiration. And there is not a more pleasant person on the planet. I am extremely proud to have helped Kevin on his way to becoming the first doctoral candidate to receive his Ph.D. from the Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto.
Congratulations, Dr. Chabot!