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Tanine AllisonAssociate Professor

My research and teaching focus on film, digital media, and video games. My writing explores transmedia genres, emerging media technologies, and the intersections between analog and digital media. In particular, I explore how the emergence of digital technology in the late twentieth century transformed the ways in which various media forms articulate a sense of realism and generate discourses of authenticity. My first book, Destructive Sublime: World War II in American Film and Media, was published by Rutgers University Press in 2018. In the book, I challenge conventional notions of the American war genre by showing how combat sequences are often aesthetically—and politically—radical. I introduce the term "destructive sublime" to denote images of war that turn violence into spectacle and excite spectators with a wide range of sometimes contradictory sensations.By using the language of the destructive sublime, combat films, video games, and other media temporarily upend traditional ideas about World War II, long portrayed in American culture as the "good war" fought for the ideals of freedom and democracy. Instead, the media I analyze—ranging from 1940s documentaries like The Battle of San Pietro (1945) to contemporary media like Saving Private Ryan (1998), Dunkirk (2017), and the video game Brothers in Arms (2005)—use spectacular violence to remind us of the inescapable brutality and cruel devastation of war.

A second line of research explores digital visual effects in film, animation, and video games. My work argues that visual effects now subtend all aspects of the contemporary cinematic image, from pre-production to editing, actors' performances, cinematography, and production design. I am currently at work on a book project exploring the technology of motion capture (using a performer's movements to drive a digital character) and issues of identity, especially race, gender, age, and ability. I examine the social and cultural implications of motion capture as a technique that does not capture the external appearance of actors and thus has been praised for allowing a particular fluidity of identity. By examining the gendered and raced performers and characters created through motion capture, I test whether the technology treats all bodies equally.  

I have been teaching at Emory since 2011. I introduced the university's first courses on Video Games and Digital Media and Culture. I regularly teach these two courses, as well as Introduction to Film, War and Media, and research methods courses.


  • PhD, University of Pittsburgh, 2010
  • BA, Brown University, 2001