Jason Middleton’s research explores the distinct and forceful modalities of feeling produced in and by documentary film/media, analyzing the interventionist work of nonfiction media not simply in the conventional terms of rhetoric and persuasion but as a sensory and embodied site of transformation. This framework enables new approaches to longstanding questions in documentary studies about the relationship among media, activism, and social change. His current book project, “Documentary’s Body: Instructional Aesthetics and Transmodal Affects,” examines film and media objects whose intimate pedagogies of bodily transformation operate through their transmodal properties. Displaying images that “cannot be unseen” (to use the popular idiom) by depicting processes that have consistently posed challenges to representation (childbirth, illness and dying, animal slaughter and meat production), these media produce an experience of spectatorship that does not end when the video ends. Rather, through their production of affective intensities between bodies on and off the screen, they engender continuous processes of individual and collective realignment and becoming.
Middleton’s scholarship includes the monograph Documentary’s Awkward Turn: Cringe Comedy and Media Spectatorship (Routledge, 2014), the collection Medium Cool: Music Videos from Soundies to Cellphones (Duke UP, 2007), and articles in Cinema Journal, The Journal of Visual Culture, Popular Music, The Velvet Light Trap, and Afterimage. Middleton’s background in 16mm and Super 8mm experimental filmmaking informs his interest in the materiality of the medium and intersections of theory and practice. His films have screened at a variety of festivals and other venues in the U.S. and internationally, as well as on public and satellite television.
- “Documentary Horror: The Transmodal Power of Indexical Violence,” Journal of Visual Culture 14.3 (December 2015), special issue, “The Design and Componentry of Horror,” ed. Eugenie Brinkema and Caetlin Benson-Allott.
- Documentary’s Awkward Turn: Cringe Comedy and Media Spectatorship (Routledge, 2014).
- Medium Cool: Music Videos from Soundies to Cellphones, ed. Roger Beebe and Jason Middleton (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007).
- “Something to Hide: The Ethics of Spectatorship in Saw,” in Cine-Ethics: Ethical Dimensions of Film Theory, Practice, and Spectatorship, ed. Mattias Frey and Jinhee Choi (Routledge, 2013).
- “Spectacles of Atrocity: Mondo Video in the ‘War on Terror,’” Afterimage 39.1&2 (August 2011).
- “The Subject of Torture: Regarding the Pain of Americans in Hostel,” Cinema Journal 49.4 (Summer 2010).
- "The Audio-Vision of Found Footage Film and Video," in Medium Cool: Music Videos from Soundies to Cellphones, ed. Roger Beebe and Jason Middleton (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007).
- Documentary Film and Media: Theory and Practice
- The Horror Film
- Introduction to the Art of Film
- Gender and Sexuality in American Cinema
- Documentary and Mock Documentary
- Introductory Video and Sound
Professional Honors and Awards
- G. Graydon Curtis and Jane W. Curtis Teaching Award for Nontenured Faculty Teaching, University of Rochester, 2009.
- James B. Duke Fellowship, Duke University, 1995-1999.