Lyell Davies

Lyell Davies

Lyell Davies
Associate Professor
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PhD. Program in Visual and Cultural Studies. The University of Rochester.

MA. Program in Visual and Cultural Studies. The University of Rochester.

MA. Communications. Hunter College. The City University of New York.

Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program.

BA. Fine Art. The National College of Art and Design. Ireland.


An Irish born documentary video maker, educator, and media scholar, Davies earned his PhD in Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester. His social justice themed documentaries include: Spoken By An Actor: Cinema Censorship and Northern Ireland (1993), co-directed with Irish filmmaker Naomi Wilson; Towards a Lasting Peace: Gerry Adams in the U.S. (1994); Making Ourselves Free (1994); Ireland’s Own Berlin Wall (1994); and Brain Injury Dialogues (2008), co-directed by brain injury survivor Rick Franklin. His documentaries have been exhibited at film festivals or broadcast in numerous settings internationally, with Brain Injury Dialogues airing on PBS member stations coast-to-coast. He has also worked on community-based and participatory media production projects, including as a producer for the long existent guerilla video collective Paper Tiger Television.

The focus of Davies’ scholarly research is the study of documentary film, politically committed and alternative media production, and media justice and reform; with a supporting interest in social movements, diaspora and postcolonial studies, and sociological and anthropological approaches to cinema and media studies. His research has been published in Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, Canadian Journal of Film Studies, Jumpcut: A Review of Contemporary Media, Radical History Review, and Public Culture. He has contributed chapters to edited collections examining activist film festivals, video-on-demand company Netflix, and the works of Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene.

Prior to joining John Jay College, Davies taught media studies at CUNY’s Hunter College, as well as teaching or facilitating media production, television broadcasting, and photography workshops in community-based and youth education settings in Ireland and the US. These include as: a production trainer and development officer at the participatory youth media program The Youth Channel; an outreach specialist at the community access TV station Manhattan Neighborhood Network; and as a facilitator and media content producer at community-based projects serving immigrant workers, ethnic lgbtq communities, at-risk youth, the homeless,  and arts and cultural organizations.

An advocate for media justice and reform, Davies was a founding member of, a national effort to oppose state and federal legislation that would dismantle Public, Educational, and Governmental (PEG) TV. He has also been active in campaigns pressing for immigrant worker’s rights, as well as being a committed member of the Professional Staff Congress—the union representing faculty at CUNY.

At John Jay College, Davies teaches courses within the minors in Film Studies and Digital Media and Journalism, including DRA106 Introduction to Film, ENG131 Self, Media, and Society, ENG261 Digital Video Production, ENG242 Contemporary Media and Everyday Life, ENG328 Film Criticism, and ENG329 Documentary Film. He also offers independent study in film directing and editing, advanced documentary making, and film/media analysis.

Research interest

Documentary film, politically committed and alternative media production, media justice and reform, social movements, diaspora and postcolonial studies, cinema and media studies.

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