Jason Middleton’s research in film and media studies has included the areas of documentary, music video, film and television comedy, popular music, feminism, and horror. His current research projects focus primarily on horror film and media, and include the monograph, The Intimate Work of Horror; the edited collection, The Labors of Fear: Work in Horror Cinema; and the dossier, Horror Grows Up. The Intimate Work of Horror analyzes how contemporary horror cinema manifests fears and anxieties linked to what Nancy Fraser describes as finance capitalism’s “crisis of care.” Horror films have conventionally plotted the monster’s threat to a hegemonic “normality,” whose exemplary figure is the heterosexual nuclear family. More recent horror shifts the locus of fear to the precarious work of building and sustaining transformed modes of caring and kinship in a period in which public institutional supports for personal attachments are challenged, eroded, or made inaccessible. The Labors of Fear: Work in Horror Cinema restores economic and labor issues to a critical understanding of the modern horror film. It examines social fears that take root in the 1970s and 80s in response to deindustrialization, automation, globalized labor, etc., as well as labor issues that have emerged or gained greater recognition since that period. Consistent with the genre’s paradigmatic labors of mad science, work in the modern horror film is bound up with the horrific un-repression of pathological and violent impulses. Work becomes visible at the moment that it becomes horrifying.
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, Feminist Media Histories, 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.
- “Recovering ‘The Body’: Generic Convergence and Parental Reassurance in Stranger Things.” Post45 dossier: “Stranger Things and Nostalgia Now,” ed. Joel Burges and Jason Middleton (7-04-2019).
- “Struggling for Recognition: Intensive Mothering’s ‘Practical Effects’ in The Babadook (with Meredith Bak), Quarterly Review of Film and Video 37:3 (2020).
- “A Rather Crude Feminism: Amy Schumer, Post-Feminism, and Abjection,” Feminist Media Histories 3:2 (Spring 2017).
- “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).
Relevant Work Experience
- Documentary Film and Media: Theory and Practice
- The Horror Film
- Introduction to the Art of Film
- Gender and Sexuality in American Cinema
- Modern Film Theory
- Introductory Video and Sound
- Theorizing Horror
- 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.