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Nick Davis

Director | Associate Professor of English and Gender & Sexuality Studies

Ph.D. Cornell University

Nick Davis (he/him/his) researches and teaches in the areas of commercial and narrative film, queer theory, feminist and gender studies, and 20th/21st-century American literature. His book The Desiring-Image: Gilles Deleuze and Contemporary Queer Cinema (Oxford University Press, 2013) theorizes new models of queer cinema in the historical wake of HIV/AIDS, based more on formal and conceptual principles than straightforward identity claims. The book's ideas and its readings of films such as Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, The Watermelon Woman, Shortbus, Brother to Brother, Beau travail, and Velvet Goldmine draw heavily on Deleuzian philosophies of cinema, desire, collective becomings, and their unstable politics, without presuming too much prior familiarity.

Elsewhere, Nick has published essays on Julie Dash's Illusions, Alfonso Cuarón's Y tu mamá también, David Cronenberg's A  History of Violence, William Friedkin's The Boys in the Band, Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, Pixar's The Incredibles, James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie, and the politically radicalized actresses Julie Christie and Vanessa Redgrave. Forthcoming work includes essays on Todd Haynes's I'm Not There and on opaque close-ups and unknowable characters in recent queer films like Spa Night, Moonlight, They, and Tomcat. His developing book Millennium Approached: Reframing the Movies of 1999 examines a series of aesthetic trends, reception patterns, and cultural preoccupations in U.S. and world cinema on the eve of Y2K. Since 1998, he has been the author of the film reviews at, and for four years he was a Contributing Editor at Film Comment Magazine.

Nick, who is permanently co-appointed in the English Department, and also holds a courtesy appointment in Radio/Television/Film, regularly teaches a GSS grad seminar called "Queer Theory and Queer Cinema" and has led the GSS Colloquium several times. His wide range of undergraduate courses in GSS includes "Introducing Queer Cinema," "Introducing Trans Cinema," "Sexual Subjects," "Futuresex: Gender, Sexuality, and Embodiment in 21st-Century Sci-Fi Cinema," and "Advanced Seminar in Cinema & Sexuality," with several first-year seminars and senior capstone courses along the way. From 2017-2020, he held the Alumnae of Northwestern Teaching Professorship, one of the University’s highest awards for distinguished teaching and curricular innovation.


  • Film & Film Theory
  • Queer Theory
  • LGBT Studies
  • Feminism
  • 20th Century U.S. Literature
  • Critical Race & Ethnicity Studies

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Sexual Subjects
  • Introducing Queer Cinema
  • Introducing Trans Cinema
  • Advanced Seminar in Women Filmmakers
  • Advanced Seminar in Cinema & Sexuality
  • Futuresex: Gender, Sexuality, and Embodiment in 21st-Century Sci-Fi Cinema
  • Queer Theory & Queer Cinema