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Deac Rossell

Staff details

PositionLecturer in European Studies
Email d.rossell (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone+44 (0)20 7919 7451
Deac Rossell

After receiving his BA from Syracuse University in 1966, Deac Rossell began his professional life as film critic for Boston After Dark, later the Boston Phoenix, when he abandoned graduate study at Harvard University. As a journalist, he was also the newspaper’s Film Editor and then Associate Editor, interviewing personalities from Alfred Hitchcock and Bette Davis to John Cassevetes and Sidney Poitier, before moving in the early 1970's to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as the museum’s Film Coordinator. At the MFA, the programme welcomed filmmakers like Toshiro Mifune, George Cukor, Sam Fuller, Jean-Marie Straub and Danielle Huillet, Alain Robbe-Grillet, and many others. The programme also featured critics and historians such as Susan Sontag, James Card, Stephen Heath, Eric Rentschler, Ron Holloway and others. Institutionally, the first film endowments were put in place during his tenure, and he oversaw the detailed planning for the new Remis Auditorium designed by architect I. M. Pei. Notable in the light of Deac’s later career were pioneering lecture presentations by early cinema scholars, including Charles Musser and Tom Gunning, whilst they were still at graduate school, as well as by more established specialists like Paul Spehr and Roger Manvell. In Boston he also spent three years as the film critic of Boston Magazine, a similar term as the photography critic of the Boston Globe, and co-edited the Newsletter of the Boston Visual Artist’s Union for several years.

In the mid-1980's Rossell moved to Los Angeles to take up the post of Special Projects Officer for the Director’s Guild of America, where he oversaw an existing oral history project (published by the Scarecrow Press), devised and administrated education programmes for the Guild membership, mounted an annual seminar for university film teachers, and undertook an array of other duties with members and with film cultural institutions in Los Angeles and across the country. Notable during his tenure were the reorganization of the Guild’s newsletter, the unification of the Los Angeles and New York Special Projects offices (with Deac becoming National Special Projects Officer), and many negotiations with delegations of Russian filmmakers in the era of glasnost, culminating in the first official U.S. - U.S.S.R. Information Talks in April 1988, in Washington, D.C., to which Deac was named as one of five U. S. film industry representatives in a delegation led by the MPAA’s Jack Valenti.

After a year as Guest Programmer at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, whilst Programmer Geoff Gilmore was on leave at the Sundance Institute, Deac was recruited by the British Film Institute in the early 1990's as Head of Programme Planning at the National Film Theatre in London. Here, at one of the world’s leading cinematheques, he organized the public film programmes of three theatres exhibiting some 1100 films each year. The vast programme of the NFT was involved in every aspect of world cinema and historical film exhibition, and the briefest of highlights included appearances at the NFT by Robert Redford, Fay Wray, Terence Davies, Paul Schrader, Roger Corman, Derek Jarman, and many others. Again, early cinema played a role with a major season of archive screenings led by Barry Salt.

From 1994, Deac turned away from his career as a film generalist to begin to specialize in his personal interest in early cinema. His first major publication was a book-length chronology of events in early cinema from 1889 to the end of 1896 which took up an entire issue of the journal Film History (Vol. 7, No. 2), and which had begun as a project at the DGA for the late Doug Edwards at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to support a Los Angeles-wide celebration of the centennial of moving pictures. A book from the State University of New York Press followed, Living Pictures: the origins of the movies, which was given a Choice Award by the American Library Association denoting the best academic books of the year. Work on the overlooked chronophotographer Ottomar Anschütz produced several articles and a major exhibition curated for the Filmmuseum Düsseldorf and the Deutsches Filmmuseum in Frankfurt a. M. in 2000, along with an accompanying book Faszination der Bewegung: Ottomar Anschütz zwischen Photographie und Kino (Stroemfeld / Roter Stern, 2001).

In 1997 Deac began his association with GoldsmithsCollege, University of London, taking up his present post as Lecturer in European Studies in 2004, where he has led or contributed to both undergraduate and postgraduate courses on European cinema, the work of Alfred Hitchcock, and studies in Literature and Film, amongst others. He has also taught at the EuropeanFilmSchool in Ebeltoft, Denmark, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts; he also earlier served as Tutor to  Roger Manvell when he was University Professor at BostonUniversity. Deac remains an active contributor to early cinema journals in Europe and America; his most recent book is the bilingual  Laterna Magica - Magic Lantern, Eine Geschichte - A History, Volume 1 (Füsslin Verlag, Stuttgart). He is currently a Trustee of South London Community Music, the umbrella charity that runs the ensembles London Sings!, the Southwark Concert Band, and the South London Jazz Orchestra. He is married to Anette Schroeder, with whom he has a daughter, Frederike.

Teaching

Currently the convenor of EL52280B, European Cinema.

Research Interests

Research interests include:

  1. the relationship between newspapers and the film industry in the USA from c. 1910 to 1960, particularly in their closely interrelated institutional dealings and in the representation of journalists on film;
  2. independent American feature filmmaking in the period c. 1946 - 1980, both as an alternative to studio-based production and as an example of regional themes and cultures in narrative filmmaking;
  3. the invention of moving pictures at the end of the 19th century, seen from an international perspective and with a special focus on chronophotography and its influence on cinema inventors.

My most recent work has been in the history of the magic lantern from 1659 through the end of the 19th century and its use of the projected image for both education and entertainment.

Publications

Book

Die Laterna Magica
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2006. Die Laterna Magica. Steidl. ISBN 3882438568

Exploding Teeth, Unbreakable Sheets and Continuous Casting: Nitrocellulose from Gun-Cotton to Early Cinema
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2002. Exploding Teeth, Unbreakable Sheets and Continuous Casting: Nitrocellulose from Gun-Cotton to Early Cinema. Brussels: Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film. ISBN 2960029607

Faszination der Bewegung: Ottomar Anschütz zwischen Photographie und Kino
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2001. Faszination der Bewegung: Ottomar Anschütz zwischen Photographie und Kino. Stroemfeld/Roter Stern. ISBN 3878777744

‘Living Pictures.’ The Origins of the Cinema
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 1998. ‘Living Pictures.’ The Origins of the Cinema. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0791437681

Ottomar Anschütz and his Electrical Wonder
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 1997. Ottomar Anschütz and his Electrical Wonder. The Projection Box. ISBN 978-0952394181

The Off-Hollywood Film: Independent Narrative in America
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 1983. The Off-Hollywood Film: Independent Narrative in America. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Edited Book

Press Observed and Projected
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) and French, Philip, eds. 1991. Press Observed and Projected. BFI Publishing. ISBN 978-0851703268

Book Section

Double Think: The Cinema and Magic Lantern Culture
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2013. Double Think: The Cinema and Magic Lantern Culture. In: Richard Abel, ed. Encyclopedia of Early Cinema. Routledge; Reprint edition. ISBN 978-0415513807

Die Laterna Magica
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2006. Die Laterna Magica. In: B. von Dewitz and W. Nekes, eds. Ich sehe was, was Du nicht siehst! Steidl, pp. 134-145. ISBN 3882438568

Exploding Teeth, Unbreakable Sheets and Continuous Casting: Nitrocellulose from Gun-Cotton to Early Cinema
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2002. Exploding Teeth, Unbreakable Sheets and Continuous Casting: Nitrocellulose from Gun-Cotton to Early Cinema. In: R. Smither, ed. This Film is Dangerous: A Celebration of Nitrate Film. Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film, pp. 37-51. ISBN 2960029607

Exploding Teeth, Unbreakable Sheets and Continuous Casting: Nitrocellulose from Guncotton to Early Cinema
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2002. Exploding Teeth, Unbreakable Sheets and Continuous Casting: Nitrocellulose from Guncotton to Early Cinema. In: Roger Smither and Carol Surowiec, eds. This Film is Dangerous. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-2960029604

Double Think: The Cinema and Magic Lantern Culture
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 1998. Double Think: The Cinema and Magic Lantern Culture. In: John Fullerton, ed. Celebrating 1895. The Centenery of the Cinema. Sydney: John Libbey Cinema and Animation. ISBN 978-1864620153

Eadweard Muybridge et la culture de l’image en mouvement
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 1996. Eadweard Muybridge et la culture de l’image en mouvement. In: , ed. Marey / Muybridge - pionniers du Cinéma - rencontre Beaune / Stanford. Conseil régional de Bourgogne/Ville de Beaune/Université de Stanford, pp. 24-43. ISBN 978-2950956729

Dal realismo East Coast ai generi West Coast
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 1991. Dal realismo East Coast ai generi West Coast. In: Emanuela Martini, ed. Innamorati e lecca lecca. Indipendenti americani anni '60. Lindau. ISBN 978-8871800493

The Fourth Estate and the Seventh Art
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 1979. The Fourth Estate and the Seventh Art. In: Bernard Rubin, ed. Questioning Media Ethics. New York: Praeger Publishers Inc. ISBN 978-0030461316

Article

Demolition dun mur: The social construction of technology and early cinema projection systems
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2014. Demolition dun mur: The social construction of technology and early cinema projection systems. Early Popular Visual Culture, 12(3), pp. 304-341. ISSN 1746-0654

Chronophotography in the context of moving pictures
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2013. Chronophotography in the context of moving pictures. Early Popular Visual Culture, 11(1), pp. 10-27. ISSN 1746-0654

Nuernberg and the Bull's-Eye Magic Lantern
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2012. Nuernberg and the Bull's-Eye Magic Lantern. The Magic Lantern Society,

Early Magic Lantern Illustrations: What Can They Tell Us About Magic Lantern History?
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2009. Early Magic Lantern Illustrations: What Can They Tell Us About Magic Lantern History? The Magic Lantern Gazette, 21(1), ISSN 1059-1249

The Public Exhibition of Moving Pictures Before 1986
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2006. The Public Exhibition of Moving Pictures Before 1986. KINTop, 14(15),

The Magic Lantern and Moving Images before 1800
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2005. The Magic Lantern and Moving Images before 1800. Barockberichte, 40-41,

Nuernberg and the Bull's-Eye Magic Lantern
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2003. Nuernberg and the Bull's-Eye Magic Lantern. New Magic Lantern Journal, 9(5),

Serpentine Dance: Inter-National Connections in Early Cinema
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 1999. Serpentine Dance: Inter-National Connections in Early Cinema. Occasional Papers in Modern Languages, Culture and Society(1),

Die soziale Konstruktion früher technischer Systeme der Filmprojektion
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 1999. Die soziale Konstruktion früher technischer Systeme der Filmprojektion. : KINtop-Jahrbuch zur Erforschung des frühen Films, 8,

The Biograph Large-Format Technology
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 1999. The Biograph Large-Format Technology. Griffithiana, 66-70,

Beyond Messter -- Aspects of Early Cinema in Berlin
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 1998. Beyond Messter -- Aspects of Early Cinema in Berlin. Film History, 10(1), pp. 52-69. ISSN 0892-2160

Trescientos años de entretenimiento cinematografico
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 1997. Trescientos años de entretenimiento cinematografico. Revista Archivos de la Filmoteca, 25-26,

Jenseits Messter -- die ersten Berliner Kinematographen-Anbieter in Berlin
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 1997. Jenseits Messter -- die ersten Berliner Kinematographen-Anbieter in Berlin. KINtop 6, Jahrbuch zur Erforschung des frühen Films, ISSN 1024-1906

The New Thing with the Long Name and the Old Thing with the Name that Isn’t Much Shorter. A Chronology of Cinema, 1889-1896
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 1995. The New Thing with the Long Name and the Old Thing with the Name that Isn’t Much Shorter. A Chronology of Cinema, 1889-1896. Film History, 7(2), pp. 115-236. ISSN 0892-2160

Conference or Workshop Item

Paradigm Shifts in Vision
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2011. 'Paradigm Shifts in Vision'. In: Roundtable discussion in the series Muybridge and Moving Image History, organized by the Kingston Museum and Kingston University. Kingston University, Knights Park Campus, United Kingdom 27 January 2011.

‘“...the Air fill’d with all sorts of Birds...”: the magic lantern as educator and entertainer’
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2009. '‘“...the Air fill’d with all sorts of Birds...”: the magic lantern as educator and entertainer’'. In: Large Auditorium, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, United States 13 July 2008.

‘“...so natural and lively a representation...”: the artistry of the magic lantern’.
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2008. '‘“...so natural and lively a representation...”: the artistry of the magic lantern’.'. In: Remis Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, United States 5 July 2008.

‘“...divers Personages running at the Ring...”: the magic lantern and moving pictures’
Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.) . 2008. '‘“...divers Personages running at the Ring...”: the magic lantern and moving pictures’'. In: Walter Reade Theatre, Lincoln Center, New York City. Walter Reade Theatre, Lincoln Center, New York City, United Kingdom 9 July 2008.