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I am a Film Studies professor at North Carolina State University who loves researching, writing, and speaking about American film history. I regularly introduce films, moderate panels, make radio appearances, and lecture on an array of topics relating to film history.
I've given talks all over the United States as well as in Amsterdam, Vienna, Prague, and London. I've introduced films at the National Gallery of Art, the National Archives, the Museum of the Moving Image, the Hammer Museum, the Czech National Film Archive, the Austrian Film Museum, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and other venues.
I have co-directed two short documentaries: All the Possibilities... (2019), about a single, extraordinary painting by Vernon Pratt and Rendered Small (2017), about a unique collection of American Folk Art Buildings.
I am the author of Film is Like a Battleground: Sam Fuller’s War Movies and Hollywood Ambitions: Celebrity in the Movie Age, and the co-editor of Learning with the Lights Off: A Reader in Educational Film and Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film. I am the former editor of The Moving Image journal.
In 2019-2020, I'll be a fellow at the National Humanities Center, and in 2020-2021, I'll be on an NEH Public Scholar Fellowship to write a new book about Ursula Parrott and career women in the 1920s-1940s.
I have a monthly radio show, “Movies on the Radio,” on WUNC’s "The State of Things," 91.5 on your FM dial.
Upcoming + Recent
One of the highlights of my career was getting to go with Vice Provost Susan Nutter to the White House in June 2016 to accept the National Medal for Museum and Library Service on behalf of NCSU’s amazing libraries from one of the women I admire most, First Lady Michelle Obama.
1. Motion Pictures . . . A little black circular object sits in Gordon’s office. At first glance, it looks like an ashtray, but it’s a miniature zoetrope. Spin it and images drawn by one of her students bring to life a howling wolf. It’s a nice reminder of how students surprise her. “More often than not, I’m surprised what students end up appreciating that I think they are going to be dismissive of,” says Gordon.
2. Hard to Pick a Favorite, but . . . Gordon loves teaching classics like Rebel Without a Cause, by one of her favorite directors, Nicholas Ray. Or director Douglas Sirk’s melodramas and Sam Fuller’s war movies. Fuller, in fact, gets a nod above her desk with a framed picture of Lee Marvin from the set of the director’s The Big Red One. She wrote a book about Fuller and was able to meet his wife and daughter. “They were generous enough to allow me into their home archive,” she says. “I remember the first time I was in that space of his former writing studio, I just felt like this was like a religious experience.”
IN MY OFFICE
"Desk Set," by Chis Saunders
The Alumni Magazine NC State, Winter 2018
Who: Marsha Gordon, professor and coordinator of the film program at NC State since 2002. She teaches courses ranging in focus from musicals and war documentaries to African-American film and literature and cinema. And she’s a director to boot. Gordon just made her first documentary, Rendered Small.
Office: Tompkins 257
3. An Eye for Art . . . A lamp designed to look like a dress is a piece of folk art. “One of my secondary life interests is the world of art and collecting,” she says. She once worked at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. It’s that interest that led her to the subjects of her documentary, Rendered Small, which chronicles a Hillsborough, N.C., couple’s vast collection of miniature buildings.
4. Period Pieces . . . A movie poster featuring Clara Bow, an early 20th century film star, hangs on the wall. “If you were to say, ‘What’s your favorite period of time in film history?’ America film from the Twenties to the Fifties,” she says.
5. Wall of Women . . . Bow is just one of many powerful females adorning walls all around in the cinephile’s digs. There’s a picture of Judy Garland and a poster of Donna Summer. There’s a boxed-up Eva Gabor wig (Gordon will offer to let you wear it) and a picture of Wonder Woman, Gordon’s hero growing up in California’s San Fernando Valley. And directly above her desk hangs a picture of Diana Serra Cary, a child star of the early 1900s. She went by the name of Baby Peggy, and Gordon got to interview her 12 years ago. The picture features Serra Cary’s autograph.
Department of English
North Carolina State University
Dept. of English--CB 8105
Raleigh, NC 27695-8105