Carl Plantinga

Carl Plantinga


  • BA - Calvin College, philosophy, 1980
  • MA - University of Iowa, communication (film), 1982
  • PhD - University of Wisconsin-Madison, communication arts (film) and philosophy, 1989

Academic interests

  • Spectatorship from Ethical, Psychological, and Cultural Perspectives
  • Film and Media Theory
  • Documentary Film and Media
  • Philosophy of Film and Art



Alternative Realities (Rutgers University Press, 2021)

Screen Stories: Emotion and the Ethics of Engagement (Oxford University Press, 2018)

Moving Viewers: American Film and the Spectator’s Experience (University of California Press, 2009)

Rhetoric and Representation in Nonfiction Film (Cambridge University Press, 1997)

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film (Routledge, 2009) Co-editor.

Passionate Views: Film, Cognition, and Emotion (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999) Co-editor.

Articles and Book Chapters

  • 45 refereed articles and book chapters
  • “The Scene of Empathy and the Human Face on Film,” in Carl Plantinga and Greg M. Smith, eds. Passionate Views: Film, Cognition, and Emotion. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.
  • “What a Documentary Is, After All.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Arts Criticism 63, 2 (Spring 2005).
  • “Art Moods and Human Moods in Narrative Cinema.” New Literary History 43, 3 (Summer 2012).
  • “Notes on Spectator Emotion and Ideological Film Criticism,” Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings, 8th ed., eds. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.


Screen Stories and Moral Understanding (2020-2022), Templeton Religion Trust

Professional associations

Former President and Fellow, the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image

Editorial Board, Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind

Member of the American Society for Aesthetics

Member of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies



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