Many people have supported me through my writing of this project, starting
in its infancy at Oberlin College, where Geoff Pingree and Pat Day supervised
my honors thesis on death in documentary film and gave me the confidence to
pursue an academic career. When I returned to the topic as a dissertation at uc
Berkeley, each of my committee members was invaluable. Leigh Raiford was a
rigorous and supportive reader, and she helped me lay the groundwork by su-
pervising a qualifying exam field on death and image media—agreeing to read
my response papers on atrocity photographs in the middle of a beautiful Berke-
ley summer, no less. Kristen Whissel’s eye for detail and for concise, forceful
arguments was a blessing, as was her keen professional guidance throughout
my years at Berkeley. Tony Kaes was generous with his time and his encour-
agement, and he has pushed me to think broadly and write as a member of an
intellectual community. Coming to Berkeley, I expected that Linda Williams
would be an insightful reader and excellent intellectual resource for her stu-
dents, but I did not necessarily expect the incredible kindness and collegiality
I experienced when I became one of them. I am grateful to Linda for in-depth
comments on my work that always let me remain in control of it, active men-
toring that left nothing to be desired, and a grounded attitude that allowed me
to work with her without feeling too starstruck. Also at Berkeley, I am grateful
to Maxine Fredericksen, Gary Handman, and many colleagues in and around
the Department of Film & Media who gave generous feedback on drafts and
presentations from this project.
After finishing my PhD, I was fortunate to receive funding from the Mel-
lon Foundation as the McPherson Postdoctoral Fellow at Smith College. The
time and resources this fellowship granted were essential to the completion of
this book, as was the welcoming scholarly community of Smith and the Five
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