Sarah Ann Wells

Associate Professor

Sterling 2320


Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley.

My research and teaching interests include modernism and the avant-gardes, science fiction, labor, translation, Latin American studies, and film and media history.

My book, Media Laboratories: Late Modernist Authorship in South America (Northwestern University Press, 2017), examines late modernist literature in Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay through its relationship to formerly new media such as cinema, radio, and the typewriter. I trace the transformation of the figure of the author during the period, from the avant-garde emphasis on originality and rupture to its late modernist reconfiguration as spectator and user. Media Laboratories recently won the Best Book (Humanities category) from the Southern Cone Section of the Latin American Studies Association.

With Jennifer Feeley, I am also the co-editor of Simultaneous Worlds: Global Science Fiction Cinema (University of Minnesota, 2015).

My second book project, tentatively titled The Labor of Images: Work and Its Discontents in Brazilian Cinema, 1970 to the Present, seeks to understand the materialization of cinema on labor in the age of labor’s immateriality. Taking as a starting point the labor films that emerged in the late 1970s to capture Latin America’s largest industrial strikes, this study explores their afterlives in contemporary documentary and fiction film, analyzing how cinema is uniquely poised to engage the problem of labor’s global dimensions. I was recently awarded an ACLS Fellowship for The Labor of Images.

I have also begun preliminary research for a book on the afterlives of surrealism in erotic postwar poetry, fiction, and the visual arts in South America. My corpus focuses on work by Alejandra Pizarnik, Marosa di Giorgio, and Hilda Hilst.

Other interests include the reception and circulation of Soviet art in Latin America.

Current Research, Grant-Funded Projects:



The Labor of Images: Work and its Discontents in Brazilian Cinema, 1970 to the Present. Book.


“Sex Work in Cinema: Lessons from the 1970s.” Article.


“The Strike Film.” Article.

Selected Publications, Productions:


• “The Panorama and the Pilgrimmage: the Soviet Union in Brazilian Modernism, 1930” (accepted for publication in Comintern Aesthetics, eds. Amelia Glaser and Steven Lee, University of Toronto Press, Spring 2019). Book chapter.


 Media Laboratories: Late Modernist Authorship in South America (Northwestern University Press, 2017). Book.


• “El trabajo en el cine brasileiro” (“Work in Brazilian Cinema.”) Dossier on Cinema, Vademécum de Hispanófila 177 (June 2016). Article.


• “Parallel Modernities? The First Reception of Soviet Cinema in Latin America.” In Cosmopolitan Film Cultures in Latin America, 1896-1960, eds. Rielle Navitski and Nic Poppe (Indiana University Press, 2017). Book chapter.


• “Jet Lag: Late Cinema in South America.” Revista de Estudios Hispánicos L.2dossier on Comparative Media Studies in Latin America. (June 2016.) Article.


 “Mass Culture and the Laboratory of Late Modernism in Patrícia Galvão’s Industrial Park (1933).” Luso-Brazilian Review 53.1 (2016).  Article.


• Simultaneous Worlds: Global Science Fiction Cinema (University of Minnesota, 2015). Co-edited volume; “Introduction.”


 “The Scar and the Node: Border Science Fiction and the Mise-en-Scène of Globalized Labor.” The Global South 8. 1 (Spring 2014.) Article.


 “Distopía e industria cultural en la película La Antena (Esteban Sapir, 2007).” Revista Iberoamericana LXXVIII (2012). Article.


• “Late Modernism, Pulp History: Jorges Luis Borges’ A Universal History of Infamy (1935).” Modernism/Modernity 18.2 (April 2011). Article.


• New Argentine Film: Other Worlds by Gonzalo Aguilar (Palgrave: 2008, 2011). Translation.

Recent or Recurrent Courses Taught:


* CL 202, 358: Global Science Fiction


* CL 203: Detectives and Noir


* CL 500: Media Fictions 


* CL 466: Gender and Technology


* CL 771: Global Modernisms? (graduate seminar)


* CL 770: Labor (Cinema, Literature, Theory) (graduate seminar)