Dr Cecilia Sayad

Senior Lecturer in Film
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Dr Cecilia Sayad


Dr Cecilia Sayad is a Senior Lecturer in Film and a member of the executive committee for the Centre for Film and Media Research. She holds a PhD in Cinema Studies from New York University and before coming to Kent in 2008, she taught at NYU, Vassar College, and the University of Chicago.

Dr Sayad has three main areas of research: horror, film authorship, and criticism. She currently teaches two modules related to some of these research areas: Film Criticism and Film Genre (Horror).

Her most recent research is about alternative ways of understanding the relationship between horror films and reality, with a focus on mock found-footage horror movies and ghost hunting reality shows.

Research interests

Dr Cecilia Sayad is currently researching new ways of accounting for the notion of reality in the horror genre. She looks at found-footage horror films, horror documentaries, ghost hunting reality television, and web videos featuring supernatural themes. The theoretical focus is on ideas about audiovisual records’ evidential value and ability to enhance or expand our perception of the world. She also considers the changes brought about by digital technology.

Her article on a related topic, titled ‘Found-Footage Horror and the Frame’s Undoing’ (Cinema Journal 55.2), won the Best Journal Article Award given by the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies (BAFTSS) in 2017.

She has also published works on film authorship and criticism. Her book Performing Authorship: Self-Inscription and Corporeality in the Cinema (I.B. Tauris, 2013) proposes a different take on the film author by describing this figure in terms of presence and performance, rather than self-expression and control. In the field of criticism, she co-edited a collection with Mattias Frey titled Film Criticism in the Digital Age (Rutgers University Press, 2015), which examines the sense of a crisis in this field.

She has also published a Portuguese-language book on Charlie Kaufman titled O jogo da reinvenção: Charlie Kaufman e o lugar do autor no cinema (Alameda, 2008), which accounts for his unusual status as an auteur-screenwriter prior to his directorial enterprises.


Film Criticism - FILM5850

This course introduces students to the history and theory of film criticism, emphasising the coexistence of different approaches to the analysis, evaluation and appreciation of film. 

Film Genre (Horror) - FILM5950  

This module studies individual genres, which may vary across different academic terms (it may focus on the horror, science-fiction, western, musical, comedy, the noir or the gangster film, among others). It combines aesthetic and narrative analysis with the history of the genre.


Dr Sayad is interested in supervising students working on the following topics: horror movies, film authorship, film criticism, the ontology of the image (and the impact of digital technologies), realism, the essay film, the French New Wave, Latin American cinema (especially Brazilian), and American cinema from the post-war to the present.

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