Charles Wolfe

Professor of Film & Media Studies
Director of Undergraduate Studies

1978 Ph.D. Columbia University

Curriculum Vitae


2316 Social Sciences & Media Studies



Film History, Historiography, Documentary Film, American Cinema


Charles Wolfe's research and teaching interests include international film history and theory; American cinema and cultural history; documentary film and photography; historiography; archival studies; comedy performance; voice in cinema; and film sound. He is the author of two books on the films of director Frank Capra and has published widely on various aspects of the history of commercial, independent, and documentary filmmaking in the U.S. With Edward Branigan, he co-edits the American Film Institute's Film Reader Series, which to date has published 30 volumes of new critical essays on topics of contemporary concern in film, television, and new media studies.

A member of the Board of Directors of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies from 2006 to 2009, Wolfe also has served as a consulting scholar for the New York Center for Visual History's American Cinema Project, as a member of the AFI’s Academic Advisory Council, and as a Rockefeller Fellow at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research. Wolfe received the Outstanding Pedagogy Award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies in 2011, and is a past recipient of a Distinguished Teaching Award from the UCSB Academic Senate. He chaired the Department of Film and Media Studies from 1994 to 1998, and served as Associate Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts in the College of Letters and Science at UCSB from 2003 to 2008.

Charles Wolfe’s recent publications include:

  • “Buster Keaton: Comic Invention and the Art of Moving Pictures,” in Idols of Modernity: Movie Stars of the Twenties. Edited by Patrice Petro. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2010, pp. 41-64..

  • “California Slapstick Revisited,” in Slapstick Comedy. Edited by Tom Paulus and Rob King. New York: Routledge, 2010, pp. 169-189

  • “From Venice to the Valley: California Slapstick and the Keaton Comedy Short,” in Taking Place: Location and the Moving Image. Edited by John David Rhodes and Elena Gorfinkel. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011, pp. 3-30.

  • “’Cross-Talk’: Language, Space, and the Burns and Allen Comedy Film Short,” Film History vol. 23, no. 3, 2011, pp. 300-312.

  • “Mapping Why We Fight: Frank Capra and the U.S. Army Orientation Film in World War II,” in The Blackwell History of American Film. Edited by Arthur D. Simon, Cynthia Lucia, and Roy Grundman. Boston: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.


California Slapstick Revisited,
in Slapstick Comedy.

Edited by Tom Paulus and Rob King

“Keaton in Shorts.”

vol. 15, no. 4, 2008, pp. 838-844.