Skip to content

Faculty Leaders

Karla Oeler

associate professor of art & art history

Karla Oeler teaches in the film and media studies program and is the faculty director of the residential arts program, Immersion in the Arts: Living in Culture. She specializes in film theory and criticism and her areas of interest include Russian and Soviet cinema and the intersections of literary and film form. At Stanford, she has recently taught courses on silent cinema, theories of the moving image, science fiction films, and Robert Altman.

Her first book, A Grammar of Murder: Violent Scenes and Film Form (University of Chicago Press, 2009) argues that murder is an act through which cinema imagines and transforms itself. The book traces the murder scene’s formative impact on the theory and practice of montage and on the narrative syntax of several film genres. It was translated into Chinese in 2014.  Professor Oeler is currently working on a book called The Surface of Things:  Cinema and the Devices of Interiority. Her new book grows out of A Grammar of Murder’s interest in the (missing) perspective of the victim and the compositional challenges it poses. Her interest in an unexpressed perspective developed into a broader curiosity about how film shows thinking that is not made public because of political or social pressure, or simply because it does not take the form of publicly comprehensible speech. To approach this topic, she asks why and how, at key moments in twentieth-century film culture, filmmakers and critics claim to relocate or rediscover onscreen, techniques from literature that were designed to show interiority such as soliloquy, free-indirect discourse, and interior monologue.

The Stanford Book Salon [Seriously Unstuffy]

Join Book Salon

Sign up to participate in our virtual discussions, or simply receive an email announcement of each new book.

Already a member? Manage your settings for the discussions and email announcements.


Books Karla Hosted

  • The Three-Body Problem