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Jennifer Bean named first Robert Jolin Osborne Professor of Cinema and Media Studies

Submitted by Yuko Mera on January 13, 2020 - 11:25am
Bean headshot

We are delighted to announce that associate professor Jennifer Bean is the recipient of the new Robert Jolin Osborne Professorship in Cinema and Media Studies. The endowed professorship was established with a $500,000 gift from the Robert Jolin Osborne Trust in memory of UW alum, film historian, and television host, Robert Osborne (1932-2017).

Jennifer’s contributions to the study of film at the University of Washington have been fundamental in building the program into what it is today: a department of Cinema and Media Studies with a full range of undergraduate and graduate degree offerings.

An expert in silent-era cinema, Jennifer has published on early forms of stardom, the films of Charlie Chaplin, feminist perspectives on film history, and many other topics. She has worked extensively in film restoration and preservation with the Thanhouser Company, Turner Classic Movies, the National Film Preservation Foundation, and other organizations. Now she is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Feminist Media Histories. A model teacher, “Jennifer is dynamite in the classroom,” according to Department Chair Eric Ames. “Passionate, brilliant, inspiring, supportive – that’s how students describe her.”

The Robert Jolin Osborne Professorship allows the department to recruit, retain, and reward distinguished faculty who have demonstrated excellence in teaching and research in the field of Cinema and Media Studies.

Osborne, a Washington State native, graduated from UW in 1954 with a degree in journalism. He went on to become a Hollywood actor (with Desilu Studios), a film journalist (with a daily column in The Hollywood Reporter), the official biographer of “Oscar” (with a series of published books on the Academy Awards), and a highly successful television presenter, best known for his role as primetime host of Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

In a tribute at the time of his death, TCM wrote: “Robert was embraced by devoted fans who saw him as a trusted expert and friend. His calming presence, gentlemanly style, encyclopedic knowledge of film history, fervent support for film preservation, and highly personal interviewing style all combined to make him a world-class host.”

Bean’s passion and work in the areas of film history, preservation, and education make her a wonderful choice for the professorship that honors Osborne’s legacy.

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