Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Comparative Literature


Paul Julian Smith

Committee Members

Giancarlo Lombardi

Jerry Carlson

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Film and Media Studies


urban theory, genre, film, Africa, Latin America


This project studies twelve African and Latin American films from a range of eras and countries, with an emphasis on their treatment of urban space, their manipulation of genre elements, and their approaches to character subjectivity. The analysis draws on major works of urban theory by Henri Lefebvre, Manuel Castells, David Harvey, Jane Jacobs, and others in order to investigate the relationship between cinema and the urban experience. As the films in the study are mostly set in cities that are not discussed by the theorists, the analysis entails testing their theories against the realities of these other settings, as depicted in the films. Furthermore, as these films depict places and people not usually featured in commercial cinema, this project will emphasize ways in which the films challenge dominant patterns of cinematic representation with regard to African and Latin American people, places and culture. Finally, this project will analyze important structural and stylistic nuances of each film in order to contribute to existing discussions of African and Latin American film and global film in general.