Hannah Goodwin, Film Studies

Photo of Hannah Goodwin

Name: Hannah Goodwin

Title:  Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies

Department: Film Studies

Areas of study:  Film, media, science and technology studies

Research focus: My research bridges film and media studies with science and technology studies. I am currently working on my first book, which traces the intersecting histories of photographic media  and astronomy. This book focuses on the early- to mid-20th century, when Einstein’s theories of relativity were gaining traction globally, and identifies the common ways film and new astrophysics seemed to allow for temporal and spatial mobility in an age of geopolitical unrest. I’m in the process of developing a project on the history and imagined futures of quantum computation in dialogue with the ways popular cinema, new age philosophy, and media theory have taken up the metaphors of quantum entanglement and duality. I’ve also done interdisciplinary research on social media and censorship in Mongolia, Turkey and Zambia as part of a team of researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

What drew me to this field: I took three film studies courses during my senior year of college and was hooked. I loved that these courses took seriously a media form I had taken for granted as primarily entertainment, pushing me to consider the ways films reflected and influenced different cultures and values.

Why Mount Holyoke: My older sister, Eva Goodwin ’08, was a MoHo, and I always admired the combination of warmth, openness, intelligence and genuine desire to make the world better that I saw among her friends and classmates. I had the same feeling when I returned to Mount Holyoke for my campus interview. The students I spoke with here were articulate, curious and insightful — a dream combination for any professor hoping to have lively conversations in the classroom. There is nothing like a liberal arts college for fostering the best possible environment for learning, for professors and students alike.

About teaching: Teaching ensures that I can never get too comfortable with a particular worldview. Just when I’m settling into a particular conviction, a student will say something that opens up a whole new way of seeing things. It’s incredible to have perpetual contact with the generation that is emerging into the workforce. I get to learn what their concerns, hopes and dreams are, and with any luck, I can play a role in helping them become ethical, active forces in shaping a better future.

Proudest accomplishments, academic or other: I’m thrilled to have gotten a job at Mount Holyoke, and can’t imagine a more rewarding accomplishment (for me) than that. On a different level, solving The New York Times’s annual giant crossword puzzle with the help of various family members is also quite satisfying.

Previous work/research/teaching experiences: During my time at the University of California, Santa Barbara, I was part of an interdisciplinary research team that studied social media usage in Turkey, Zambia and Mongolia, particularly among politically marginalized groups, activists and journalists. It was exciting to get to talk to so many impressive people and learn about the particular issues they face in their political contexts. As for teaching, it’s hard to pick one particular experience! I loved teaching Social Media last fall because my students were able to use their personal experiences to develop a more expansive understanding of the roles social media can play in political activism, the formation of transnational communities, and so on. It allowed me to learn about trends and practices that I hadn’t encountered and it helped them see their everyday interactions in a historical and global context.

Favorite things about the campus and region so far: I can’t wait to make use of this beautiful library. I also love the picturesque little waterfall by Willits-Hallowell Conference Center. Beyond campus, I am eager to take advantage of all the small farms in the area, as well as the various trails for hiking and biking.

Class as an undergraduate: One class that left a big mark on my career and life was an independent study in which I and five other students made a film in German. I learned how to shoot and edit films, made use of my classical music knowledge to create a soundtrack and got lots of language practice.

When not working: I enjoy being outdoors, whether that means going on a long walk or hike on a nice day or sitting in the sun and reading a book. I also play violin, though much less regularly than in my high school and college days. Whenever I can, I visit my siblings in California and New York.

Favorite book, author, movie/TV: In recent years, I’ve relished Elena Ferrante’s Brilliant Friend series. My most-loved television shows to date have been “Friday Night Lights,” “One Mississippi” and “Insecure.” It’s difficult to narrow my love of films to just a few, but I could watch Ingmar Bergman’s “Persona” again and again, and Ciro Guerra’s “Embrace of the Serpent” is a more recent favorite.

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