Charlie Keil


On Leave

July 01, 2022 to June 30, 2023
Innis College, IN-125, 2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto, ON M5S 1J5


Department of History


Charlie Keil’s research has consistently focused on early and silent American cinema, though he has also published on later periods and on topics as diverse as documentary, stardom, and modernism/modernity. Many of his publications have examined what he has termed the “transitional” period of early American cinema, understood to coincide with the single-reel era of production and stretching into the years of the early feature film. As a counterpart to his research on American cinema, he has been engaged in a SSHRC-funded initiative with colleagues at Toronto Metropolitan University, entitled Early Cinema Filmography of Ontario. Of the six anthologies that he has edited or co-edited, those not directly related to silent cinema include Funny Pictures: Animation and Comedy in Studio-Era Hollywood and Editing and Special/Visual Effects.His current projects are an investigation of the origins of Hollywood, both as a filmmaking centre and a symbolic site, and the Oxford Handbook of Silent Cinema, co-edited with Rob King. 

Professor Keil has contributed to the core curriculum on a regular basis, concentrating on Introduction to Film Study and Film Cultures I. Some of his upper-level undergraduate courses have investigated distinct aspects of American cinema, from filmmaking practices to distinct genres, while others have been devoted to such topics as early cinema, authorship, film and technology, film history, and how history has been represented on film. At the graduate level, he has most recently offered courses on historiography, silent cinema, and film analysis. In 2015, he won the Faculty of Arts & Science Outstanding Teaching Award, while in 2019, he received the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Distinguished Pedagogy Award.  In 2022, he was a recipient of the University of Toronto’s President’s Teaching Award.


Early American Cinema in Transition: Story, Style and Filmmaking, 1907-1913. Madison, Wi.: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001. 306 pp.

Books Edited

A Companion to D.W. Griffith. Wiley-Blackwell Companions to Film Directors. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2018. 592 pp.

Behind the Silver Screen: Editing and Special/Visual Effects. Co-edited with Kristen Whissel. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2016. 259 pp.

Beyond the Screen: Institutions, Networks and Publics of Early Cinema. Co-edited with Marta Braun, Rob King, Paul Moore, and Louis Pelletier. Eastleigh: John Libbey Publishing, 2012. 336 pp.

Funny Pictures: Animation and Comedy in Studio-Era Hollywood. Co-edited with Daniel Goldmark. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. 313 pp.

Cinema of the 1910s: Themes and Variations. Co-edited with Ben Singer. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2009. 278 pp.

American Cinema’s Transitional Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices. Co-edited with Shelley Stamp. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. 371 pp.

Articles in Academic Journals

“Editing and the Institutionalization of Cinema, 1913-1917.” Co-authored with Nick Shaw. Cinémas, 28, 2-3 (2019), pp. 111-30.

“Leo Rosencrans, Movie-Struck Boy: A (Half-)Year in the Life of a Hollywood Extra.” Film History 26, 2 (2014), pp. 31-51.

“Narration in the Transitional Cinema:  The Historiographical Claims of the Unauthored Text.”  Cinémas, 21, 3, (Spring 2011), pp. 106-30.

Articles in Books

“Hollywood: Promoting Collaboration.” Co-authored with Denise McKenna. In Resetting the Scene: Classical Hollywood Revisited. Ed. Philippa Gates and Katherine Spring. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2021, pp. 109-117.

“Provenance on Ice: Dawson City: Frozen Time and the Dawson City Collection.” Co-authored with Christina Stewart. In Provenance and Early Cinema: Preservation, Circulation, and Re-Purposing. Ed. Joanne Bernardi, Paolo Cherchi Usai, Tami Williams, and Joshua Yumibe. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2020, pp. 305-316.

“Risky Business: The Early Film Actor and Discourses of Danger.” Co-authored with Denise McKenna. In Viscera, Skin and Physical Form: Corporeality and Early Cinema. Ed. Jan Olsson, Marina Dahlquist, Doron Galili, and Valentine Robert. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2018, pp. 119-133.

"The Movies: The Transitional Era.” In American Literature in Transition, 1910-1920. Ed. Mark W. Van Wienen. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018, pp. 312-326.

“The Silent Screen, 1895-1927: Cecil B. DeMille Shapes the Director’s Role.” In Behind the Silver Screen: Directing. Ed. Virginia Wright Wexman. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2017, pp. 26-47.

“George Cukor and the Case of an Actor’s Director: Hepburn and/or Tracy in Little WomenThe ActressKeeper of the FlameAdam’s Rib, and Pat and Mike.” In George Cukor: Hollywood Master. Ed. Murray Pomerance and R. Barton Palmer. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 107-23.

"American Documentary Finds Its Voice: Persuasion and Expression in The Plow That Broke the Plains and The City." In Documenting the Documentary: Close Readings of Documentary Film and Video. Second Edition. Edited by Barry K. Grant and Jeannette Sloniowski. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2014, pp. 103-21.

“Acting Like a Star:  Florence Turner, Picture Personality.”  In Theorizing Film Acting. Ed. Aaron Taylor.  New York:  Routledge, 2012, pp. 201-09. 

“D.W. Griffith and the Development of American Narrative Cinema.”  In The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film.  Ed. Cynthia Lucia, Arthur Simon, and Roy Grundmann.  Oxford:  Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2012, pp. 130-54.

“Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett:  The Performance is the Star.”  In Shining in Shadows:  Movie Stars of the 2000s.”  Ed. Murray Pomerance. New Brunswick, N.J.:  Rutgers University Press, 2011, pp. 182-99.

“Introduction:  What Makes These Pictures So Funny?” Co-authored with Daniel Goldmark. In Funny Pictures:  Animation and Comedy in Studio-Era Hollywood. Edited by Charlie Keil and Daniel Goldmark.  Berkeley:  University of California Press, 2011, pp. 1-11.

Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn:  Domesticated Mavericks.”  In What Dreams Were Made Of: Movie Stars of the 1940s.  Edited by Sean Griffin. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2011, pp. 192-216.  

“ ‘Studio Girls’:  Female Stars and the Logic of Brand Names.”  In Not So Silent:  Women in Cinema Before Sound.  Ed. Sofia Bull and Astrid Soderbergh Widding.  Stockholm:  Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2010, pp. 278-85.

“1913: Movies and the Beginning of a New Era.” In American Cinema of the 1910s:  Themes and Variations. Edited by Charlie Keil and Ben Singer. New Brunswick, N.J.:  Rutgers University Press, 2009, pp. 92-114.

Living Canada:  Selling the Nation Through Images.” Co-authored with Marta Braun.  In Early Cinema and the “National. Ed. Richard Abel, Giorgio Bertellini, and Rob King.  Eastleigh:  John Libbey Publishing, 2008, pp. 61-66.

“ ‘All the Frame’s a Stage’: (Anti-)Theatricality and Cinematic Modernism.”  In Against Theatre:  Creative Destructions of the Modernist Stage.  Ed. Alan Ackerman and Martin Puchner.  New York:  Palgrave MacMillan, 2006, pp. 76-91.

Integrated Attractions:  Style and Spectatorship in Transitional Cinema.”  In The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded.  Ed. Wanda Streuven.  Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2006, pp. 193-203.

"Steel Engines and Cardboard Rockets: The Status of Fiction and Nonfiction in Early Cinema."  In F is for Phony: Fake Documentary and Truth’s Undoing.  Ed. Alexandra Juhasz and Jesse Lerner.  Minneapolis:  University of Minnesota Press, 2006, pp. 29-39.

“To Here from Modernity: Style, Historiography, and Transitional Cinema.” In American Cinema’s Transitional Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices.  Edited by Charlie Keil and Shelley Stamp.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004, pp. 51-66.

“American Cinema in the 1990s and Beyond:  Whose Country’s Filmmaking Is It Anyway?”. In The End of Cinema As We Know It:  American Film in the Nineties.  Ed. Jon Lewis.  New York:  New York University Press, 2001, pp. 53-60.


“Florence Turner: Her American Career.” Women Film Pioneers Project. Eds. Jane Gaines, Radha Vatsal and Monica Dall’Asta. Center for Digital Research and Scholarship. New York: Columbia University Libraries, 2013.

“Narration and Authorship in the Transitional Text: Griffith, Thanhouser, and Typicality.” On Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc. Available since March 2011.

“American Cinema, 1895-1915.”  Oxford Bibliographies Online.  Ed. Krin Gabbard.  Live in October 2011.


PhD, University of Wisconsin–Madison
MA, University of Wisconsin–Madison
BA, University of Toronto



Administrative Service

Principal, Innis College, 2015-present
Director, Cinema Studies Institute, 2007-2014
Director, Cinema Studies Program, 2005-2007