Brian Jacobson is Professor of Visual Culture in the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the California Institute of Technology.
He is a historian of modern visual culture and media. His writing about film, art, energy, technology, and the environment has appeared in Cinema Journal, Screen, Film Quarterly, Framework, Film History, Environmental History, History and Technology, Early Popular Visual Culture, and numerous anthologies. He also writes criticism, including essays and reviews in The Atlantic, the Literary Review of Canada, and The Los Angeles Review of Books.
Jacobson is currently working on a book about the visual culture of petroleum in post-World War II France. Other projects include a book about mid-century American environmentalist media and articles generally concerned with the visual and material cultures of energy and the environment in a range of national and historical contexts.
Jacobson is the author of Studios Before the System: Architecture, Technology, and the Emergence of Cinematic Space (Columbia University Press, Film & Culture Series, 2015), a book that situates the world’s first film studios in the architectural and technological developments of urban industrial modernity and argues that cinema should be understood both as a system of environmental regulation and as a critical component of what historians of technology have termed the “human-built world.”
He is the editor of In the Studio: Visual Creation and Its Material Environments (University of California Press, 2020), a volume that examines film, television, art, and new media studios in a range of historical and geographic contexts.
Jacobson is the recipient of Fulbright, Social Science Research Council (SSRC, US), Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC, Canada), Carnegie Trust, and other fellowships. He was a 2016-2017 fellow at the University of Rochester Humanities Center.
Thesis: Constructions of Cinematic Space: Spatial Practice at the Intersection of Film and Theory