Photo of Laura Horak

Laura Horak

Assistant Professor, Film Studies; cross-appointed with Women’s & Gender Studies; Undergraduate Supervisor; Practicum & Internship Coordinator

Degrees:MA and Ph.D. (UC-Berkeley), BA (Yale University)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 4010
Office:405 St. Patrick's Building
Website:Make an appointment with Professor Horak

Laura Horak investigates gender and sexuality in film history, with an emphasis on transgender, lesbian, and gay cinema, silent cinema, digital culture, and North American and Swedish cinema. She teaches courses on film theory and historiography, women directors, sexuality in American cinema, and passing and masquerade in cinema.

She is currently researching the history of transgender and gender variant filmmakers in North America and Europe and editing a special issue of Somatechnics on cinematic bodies. Click here to read the CFP. She is also writing a book called Cinema’s Oscar Wilde: Mauritz Stiller and the Production of Modern Sexuality, contracted with Rutgers University Press. It will investigate cinema’s role in negotiating between traditional and “modern” approaches to sexuality via a case study of the career of the gay, Jewish filmmaker Mauritz Stiller.

Girls Will Be Boys cover image

Horak’s book, Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-dressed Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908-1934, was published by Rutgers University Press in February 2016. Times Higher Education called the book “Fascinating and timely … As the lesbian subject is being normalised in Hollywood and far beyond, this study of cross-dressing’s early filmic transition from heterosexual ideal to queer deviance is particularly valuable.” Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide reported: “Horak’s exhaustive research turns up many incredible moments in the history of gender shake-ups in the movies. Girls Will Be Boys is a hugely satisfying read, one of those rare books that offer distinct value to scholars while simultaneously being an entertaining read.” Read Horak’s interview about the book in Film Quarterly or listen to her discuss it with Susie Bright.

Horak’s anthology, Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space (Indiana University Press, 2014), co-edited with Jennifer Bean and Anupama Kapse, won the 2015 Society of Cinema and Media Studies’ Award for Best Edited Collection.

Recent publications include:

“Using Digital Maps to Investigate Cinema History.” In The Arclight Guide to Media History and the Digital Humanities, edited by Charles Acland and Eric Hoyt. Falmer: REFRAME/Project Arclight (2016).

“The Global Distribution of Swedish Silent Film.” In A Companion to Nordic Cinema, edited by Mette Hjort and Ursula Lindqvist, 457-484. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, March 2016. 28 pp.

“Trans on YouTube: Intimacy, Visibility, Temporality.” Special issue on Trans Cultural Production. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 1, no. 4 (December 2014): 572-585.

“Sex, Politics, and Swedish Silent Film: Mauritz Stiller’s Feminism Comedies of the 1910s.” Journal of Scandinavian Cinema 4, no. 3 (September 2014): 193-208. 16 pp.

Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space. Co-edited with Jennifer Bean and Anupama Kapse. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014.

silent cinema cover image

“Queer Crossings: Greta Garbo, National Identity, and Gender Deviance.” In Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space, edited by Jennifer Bean, Laura Horak, and Anupama Kapse, 270-294. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014.

“Swedish cinema’s use of the Bechdel test is a provocation that works.” Co-written with Anu Koivunen and Ingrid Ryberg. The Guardian. November 27, 2013.

“The Female Boy on the Frontier: The Strange Case of Billy and His Pal (1911).” Cinema Journal Afterthoughts and Postscripts (Fall 2013)

“Landscape, Vitality, and Desire: Cross-Dressed Frontier Girls in Transitional-Era American Cinema.” Cinema Journal 52:4 (Summer 2013): 74-98.

“‘Would you like to sin with Elinor Glyn?’: Film as a Vehicle of Sensual Education.” Camera Obscura 25, no. 2 74 (2010): 75-117.

“Osa Johnson.” In Women Film Pioneers Project, edited by Jane Gaines, Radha Vatsal, and Monica Dall’Asta. Center for Digital Research and Scholarship. New York, NY: Columbia University Libraries, 2013.