Eric Dienstfrey

Eric Dienstfrey's picture
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Film
Office Hours:
  • by appointment
Expertise and Activities: 

I research how the media industry's production communities adopt new technologies, particularly the processes through which best practices are established. My dissertation, The Stereo Impulse: High-Fidelity Cinema and the Making of Modern Surround Sound Aesthetics, traces the thirty year period from 1930 to 1960 in which the American film industry struggled to establish guidelines for designing motion pictures for multi-speaker sound systems. Other research interests include film music of the 'silent' era, the cultural history of tape recorders, the computer animation industry, and the economics of motion picture technical standards. My Film History article "The Myth of the Speakers" was the recipient of the 2017 Katherine Singer Kovács Essay Award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (and is free to download from JSTOR).

In addition to my research, I currently work in the University of Wisconsin Design Lab, where I help professors and teaching assistants develop digital media-making assignments for their classes. I also serve on the editorial board for The Velvet Light Trap and have helped curate special issues dedicated to sound studies, the history of technology, production cultures, and media dialogues.


  • M.A. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2011
  • B.A. Washington University in St. Louis, 2004


  • The Katherine Singer Kovács Essay Award , Society for Cinema & Media Studies , 2017
  • Mellon-Wisconsin Summer Fellowship , Mellon Foundation and the State of Wisconsin , 2017
  • University Housing Honored Instructor Award , University of Wisconsin , 2017
  • Chancellor’s Fellowship , University of Wisconsin-Madison , 2016
  • Elliott Dissertation Scholarship , University of Wisconsin-Madison , 2014
  • Helen K. Herman Memorial Fund Scholarship for academic achievement , University of Wisconsin-Madison , 2013
  • Robert J. Wickhem Award for excellence in teaching media production , University of Wisconsin-Madison , 2011
  • First Year McCarty Scholarship , University of Wisconsin-Madison , 2009



  • CA 613 - The Coen Brothers and Their Influences (reader)
  • CA 552 - American Cinema Since 1970
  • CA 355 - Introduction to Media Production
  • CA 350 - Introduction to Film
  • CA 313 - Film Comedy (reader)
  • CA 100 - Introduction to Speech Composition