Associate Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and Cinema Studies

Professor Cooper’s research is on film language, with a focus on how digital and computational methodologies can increase our understanding of narrative cinema and media as a system of communication. She is director of Kinolab, a digital humanities laboratory at Bowdoin College whose public facing platform at offers a searchable, open access database of annotated film and media clips. Current research at Kinolab, funded by the Mellon Foundation's Public Knowledge Program, focuses on creating a digital history of the close-up. This 15-month project with collaborators Joel Burges (University of Rochester) and Fernando Nascimento (Bowdoin College) will develop an at-scale dataset of film and television close-ups in order to better understand how the close-up represents and constructs race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality in American film and television. Key project activities include developing an expanded, public-facing dataset of film and television clips to be hosted on; developing annotation schema with collaborators at Mediate to make aspects of identity and its representation onscreen discoverable in Kinolab's digital clip repository; and using visualization tools to to analyze the close-up and its strategies of representation in relation to categories like genre and historical period and across film and television media. 

Cooper is also a participant in the National Humanities Center's 2022-2024 Responsible Artificial Intelligence Curriulum Design Project. From 2019-2022, she was co-principal investigator of Computing Ethics Narratives, a collaborative, multi-year and multi-institution project led by computer science, philosophy, and cinema studies faculty at Bowdoin and Colby College and funded by the Mozilla Foundation’s Responsible Computer Science Challenge, for which she supervised the curation and analysis of narrative films and series related to technology and ethics. 

Her research interests also include modern and contemporary Italian cinema and culture. Her publications on digital humanities approaches to film analysis and Italian cinema and culture have appeared in Digital Humanities Quarterly, The Italianist Film Issue, the Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, Italian Culture, Annali d’Italianistica, and various edited collections.

In Bowdoin's Cinema Studies and Italian Studies programs, Professor Cooper's courses include Film Narrative (CINE 1101), Italy's Cinema of Social Engagement (CINE/ITAL 2553), Film History from 1975-Present (CINE 2203), Film Language (CINE 3323), and Divas, Stardom, and Celebrity in Modern Italy (CINE/ITAL 3077); along with courses at different levels of the Italian language program.

Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies book cover Italian Cinema book cover The Italianist book cover Italian Culture Mafia Movies book cover Italian Modernism book cover

Allison Cooper headshot


  • PhD, Italian, University of California-Los Angeles
  • MA, Italian, University of California-Los Angeles
  • BA, English, Knox College