New Faculty Profile: Joel Neville Anderson

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

By: Diana Gilday

Professor Anderson, a Purchase Alumni now teaches multiple cinema classes. (photo by Diana Gilday)

Professor Joel Neville Anderson is a visiting assistant professor of cinema studies and film. For the Fall 2019 semester, he is teaching Introduction to Cinema Studies I, New Waves of East Asian Cinema, and an Experimental Workshop.


Anderson is a Purchase alumni who graduated with a BFA from the Conservatory of Theater Arts and Film, with a concentration in Film and a minor in Asian Studies. His education at the conservatory helped shape the path for his career.


“During my time here, because a lot of cinema studies theory and history courses are required by the department for students who are mostly interested in production, I really developed a passion for cinema studies, media studies, writing, and thinking about media in addition to creating it,” said Anderson.


Anderson grew up with an interest in Asian culture, particularly films.


“I grew up in a town in Massachusetts with a sister city in Japan. I grew up with a lot of friends who were raised initially in Japan and spent a lot of their youth in Japan,” said Anderson. “And because of that, they introduced me to a lot of films and animated media. That kind of finalized things for me where I became quite interested in Japanese Media.”


Anderson’s combined interests in media and Japan led him to work at the Japan Society in New York, a non-profit that promotes a mutual understanding between Japan and the United States. While working for the non-profit, the 2011 tsunami and earthquake hit Japan. This crisis affected Anderson and led him to develop the dissertation for his PhD.


“I started paying a lot of attention to documentaries and art projects produced about people who had experienced the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear catastrophe who were often living in temporary housing, moving out of the exclusion zone and radiation contamination,” said Anderson. “And that formed the basis of me starting to do more academic writing, and thinking about an expanded notion of what documentary media is, and what experimental media is.”


Anderson said he was happy to come back and teach at Purchase. “There aren’t many programs where that's integrated quite as seamlessly as it is here,” he said. "My dream is to be able to produce creative work and contribute to the larger ecosystem of film culture in a responsive way to make sure that the structures of film and media cultures fight against oppression.”