Lyell Davies

Lyell Davies

Associate Professor
Room number and address: 


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 maker, educator, and media scholar, Davies earned his PhD in Visual and Cultural Studies at 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 guerilla video collective Paper Tiger Television.

The focus of Davies’ scholarly research is the study of documentary film, communication rights, and politically committed and alternative media production practices, with a secondary interest in the study of 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, Frames Cinema Journal, Jumpcut: A Review of Contemporary Media, Radical History Review, and Public Culture. He has contributed chapters to edited collections examining activist film festivals (Activist Film Festivals: Towards a Political Subject, edited by Sonia Tascón and Tyson Wils. Bristol, UK: Intellect. 2017), video-on-demand company Netflix (The Netflix Effect: Technology and Entertainment in the 21st Century, edited by Daniel Smith-Rowsey and Kevin McDonald. New York: Bloomsbury. 2016), and the work of Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene (Sembène and the Politics of Culture, edited by Vetinde J. Lifongo and Amadou Fofana. Massachusetts: Lexington Books. 2015).

An immigrant and beneficiary of CUNY’s mission of providing New Yorkers with a quality, accessible education regardless of background or means, Davies’ first experience as a college student in the US was at Hunter College. He later taught media studies at Hunter, before joining John Jay College in 2008. Ahead of becoming an academic, Davies worked in community broadcasting and grassroots media production, teaching or facilitating documentary making, 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, outreach specialist at the community access TV station Manhattan Neighborhood Network, and as a facilitator and media content producer for community-based projects serving immigrant workers, ethnic lgbtq communities, at-risk youth, the homeless, and arts and cultural organizations.

An advocate for communications rights, 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 workers' rights and in support of democratic media, as well as being a committed member of the Professional Staff Congress—the labor union representing faculty at CUNY.

At John Jay College, Davies teaches courses in 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, LIT286 The Horror Film, ENG328 Film Criticism, and ENG329 Documentary Film. He also offers independent study in film directing and editing, advanced documentary making, and film/media analysis.