I am an Associate Professor in the History Department at Memorial University of Newfoundland where I teach courses in American film history and American cultural history.
My current research looks at the complex interplay between film and tourism during the first half of the 20th century by tracing the history of the 'tourism film'. Specifically, I am interested in the ways in which the United States perceived Canada and Canadians through the lens of film and tourism, as well as how Canada sold itself through motion pictures in order to attract US tourists. My research aims to help us understand the development of Canada's national destination brand.
I am also interested in the relationship between film culture and World’s Fairs between 1900 and 1939. In the early twentieth century, moving images both documented and expanded the ambitions of international expositions in the interest of modernity, consumerism, colonialism, and industrial progress. My research considers the role of the film industry at World’s Fairs, filmic representations of fair attractions, as well as the exhibition of motion pictures at the various concessions and national pavilions.
My other major area of research interest is the comparative border studies and film. I am the author of Borderland Films: American Cinema, Mexico, and Canada during the Progressive Era, which examines the intersection of North American borderlands and culture as portrayed through early twentieth-century cinema. In this monograph I investigate the significance of national borders; the ever-changing concepts of race, gender, and enforced boundaries; the racialized ideas of criminality; and how international conflict significantly influenced the United States’ relations with its immediate neighbors.
I am also engaged in the relationship between film and history, that is, how film culture informs our notions of the past. My reserarch broadly includes not only the interpretation of motion pictures as primary sources, but also considers changing modes of production, sensory experiences, perception, and “ways of seeing” in particular historical contexts.
- B.A. University of Toronto (1995)
- M.A. George Washington University (1997)
- Ph.D. Duke University (2004)
- Borderland Films: American Cinema, Mexico and Canada during the Progressive Era. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2015.
- “All Aboard: Travel Films, Railroads, and the North American West, 1897-1910.” American Review of Canadian Studies 45, no. 1 (2015): 8-25.
- “Leaky Borders: Smuggling Opium and Chinese Labor in Progressive-Era Motion Pictures.” The Journal of American Culture 37, no. 4 (2014): 394-403.
- “Vacationland: Film, Tourism, and Selling Canada, 1897-1948.” Canadian Journal of Film Studies 21, no. 2 (November 2012): 27-48.
- “Big Spy Country: Film and the U.S.-Canada Borderlands during the Second World War,” 49th Parallel: An Interdisciplinary Journal of North American Studies 29 (Summer 2012).
- "Women in Between: Representations of Gender, Race, and Nation in Ramona and The Barrier." Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 31, no. 2 (2010): 145-176.
- "The Redcoat and the Ranger: Screening Bilateral Friendship in Cecil B. DeMille's Northwest Mounted Police (1940)." American Review of Canadian Studies 38, no. 1 (Spring 2008): 43-60.
- "Primitive Encounters" Film and Tourism in the North American West," Western Historical Quarterly 38, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 47-68.
- "The Tourism of Titillation: Film and Cross-Border Tourism in Niagara Falls and Tijuana," Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, 17 (2006): 181-205.
- "Dark Limbo: Film Noir and the North American Borders," Journal of American Culture 29, vol. 2 (June 2006): 125-138.
Current Research Project
The Northern Getaway: Film, Tourism, and Canadian National Identity
Future Research Project
Films and Filming at the Fair: World’s Fairs and Motion Pictures, 1893-1939
I am interested in working with graduate students or honours students whose research interests include: Film History (US/Canada); Popular Culture; US History (late 19th-20th century); Border Studies; and Tourism.
The Tourism Film and Selling Canada
Opportunities for Graduate Study
Department of History
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Dominique Brégent-Heald, Associate Professor in the Department of History at Memorial University of Newfoundland (located in the vibrant city of St. John’s) is seeking one MA student and one PhD student to work on projects related to the history and film and/or tourism in North America. Graduate students will be trained in multidisciplinary approaches to history and will learn advanced techniques in archival and digital research, particularly in the use of visual primary source materials. Comprehensive funding packages are available with opportunities to augment the amounts through competitive scholarships or Graduate Assistantships.
Start date: September 2016
Four-Year Doctorate (PhD) in History
The Department of History at MUN offers PhDs in Canadian history, maritime history, and the history of Newfoundland and Labrador. I am seeking a graduate student who is interested in studying some aspect of film and/or tourism in Canada and/or Newfoundland and Labrador. S/he will also help develop and eventually manage the Canadian Tourism Film Online Database by working collaboratively with an MA student and the Principal Investigator. The ideal student would be highly motivated and possess strong academic training in North American History (in particular, cultural history, film history, tourism studies). Proficiency in computing and database management is highly desirable.
One-Year Masters (MA)
The successful candidate will develop a Major Research Paper (MRP) that connects to my broad interests in film (nonfiction/nontheatrical/feature), tourism, and US-Canadian cultural relations. The MA student will collaborate on Northern Getaway as a research assistant, and incorporate their research findings into their MRP. S/he will also have the opportunity to mobilize knowledge by helping to develop and update the project’s Canadian Tourism Film Online Database.
All interested applicants should contact Dominique Brégent-Heald (firstname.lastname@example.org) and are encouraged to visit http://www.mun.ca/history/graduate/faq.php to learn more about our Department. Please note that prospective students must follow the formal application process for graduate school at Memorial University. For more information, go to http://www.mun.ca/sgs/home/. The deadline to apply is February 15, 2015.
Department of History
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John's, NL A1C 5S7
Phone: (709) 864-8430
Fax: (709) 864-2164