Photo of Laura Horak

Laura Horak

Film History Expert


Laura Horak has been an assistant professor of Film Studies in the School for Studies in Art and Culture since 2014. She investigates gender and sexuality in film history, with an emphasis on silent cinema and transgender, lesbian and gay cinema cultures in the United States and Sweden.

“At Carleton, I’m constantly meeting faculty members across the university who are doing fascinating and important research. Everyone I’ve met is very approachable and generous – the ideal of intellectual community.”

In 2003, Horak received her undergrad from Yale University, where she double majored in Film Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies. For her senior project, Horak spent time in Prague to direct the film Main Station, which has since played at festivals all over the world. She wrote her senior thesis on crossdressed women in American cinema up to 1934, a topic that eventually became the subject of her new book, Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-Dressed Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908-1934.

After graduating from Yale, Horak worked for lesbian and gay filmmakers before taking a job as a video editor at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre. She then worked at Google before leaving to pursue a PhD in Film Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. After she graduated from Berkeley, Horak became a post-doctoral researcher in Film Studies at Stockholm University, where she began researching her next book project, Cinema’s Oscar Wilde: Mauritz Stiller and the Production of Modern Sexuality. The book will investigate silent cinema’s participation in changing understandings of gender and sexuality debates via the work of Finnish-Swedish filmmaker Mauritz Stiller.

Horak is currently developing a digital map to represent the circulation of films during the First World War. She is also researching the history of films made by transgender and gender non-conforming people in the U.S. and Canada.

“One of the things I love about Carleton is that there are so many fantastic events going on all the time. Every week there are film festivals, invited speakers, symposiums and workshops that I want to attend. The most difficult part is having to choose!”