Campus News

Theatre and film studies professor’s career merges storytelling, animation

Richard Neupert

As the Charles H. Wheatley Professor of the Arts in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and a Josiah Meigs Teaching Professor, Richard Neupert brings a unique confluence of his personal interests—storytelling, style, technology and economics—to film history, criticism and theory.

“Storytelling, and to a certain extent, animation, are actually at the core of how you define cinema,” said Neupert about two of his chief interests in film and film studies.

As coordinator of film studies in the department of theatre and film studies, Neupert brings his scholarship and research in one of the most popular entertainment mediums directly into the classroom.

“I’ve done a lot of work on Disney of the 1930s and how they adopted Technicolor, but I’m also really interested in alternatives to classical Hollywood, how the history of animation runs through France, which had no major studio system to support this development,” he said.

Neupert is the author of three books, including one on the history of the French New Wave and another on French animation. He also has translated two books from French into English. One year of his doctoral work took place in Paris, where he conducted research at the Cinémathèque Française, one the largest archives of films and film-related documents in the world. In Paris he developed relationships with other scholars and filmmakers, as well as a respect for original formats that inform his teaching today.

“When I teach animation history—I’ve got a refrigerator full of cartoons—I’ll show a two-color versus a three-color one so the students can actually see on 16mm film, what did two-color look like, why do you need three colors?” he said.  

“So the notion of something as simple as color or black and white can change the kinds of stories being told,” he said, setting the stage as simply and as clearly as he might in front of a class. “Not everything in the 1930s looks like Mickey Mouse, in America or especially around the world. And that’s what I’m interested in teaching, too.”

Neupert attended his hometown university, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which happened to have a great film program. He ended up with one of the most important film scholars in America, David Bordwell, as a mentor. 

In Paris he studied with one of the great film theorists, Christian Metz.

“I’ve been lucky to have had a handful of excellent teachers and researchers who pointed me in the right directions,” Neupert said.

His passion for film stretches into the community through Ciné, Athens’ nonprofit art house cinema, for which he chairs the programming committee and serves on the board of directors.

“I’ve been involved since the beginning,” he said. “It’s really a community thing and it’s fascinating—you meet a lot of terrific people you wouldn’t otherwise meet.”

And he works to involve students in this important bridge to studying film: going to the movies. He advises the student CinéClub UGA and brings a student onto the programming committee.