Prof Claire Thomson

Prof Claire Thomson

Professor of Cinema History


Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Joined UCL
27th Sep 2004

Research summary

My research centres on Danish cinema, especially state-sponsored short film, Dogme 95, and Carl Th. Dreyer, but encompasses Nordic (and occasionally British) cinema more broadly. Publications have focused on the role of cinema and literature in shaping national identities in the Nordic countries, on eco-criticism, on cinematic intermediality and materiality, and more recently on film and public heath. My most recent monograph Short Films from a Small Nation: Danish Informational Cinema 1935-1965 (Edinburgh University Press, 2018) investigates how short films were commissioned, produced and distributed under the auspices of the semi-governmental body Dansk Kulturfilm between 1932 and 1966. An earlier monograph, Thomas Vinterberg's Festen (University of Washington Press, 2013) reconsiders the first film of the Dogme 95 movement in the twin contexts of the digital and affective turns. I have also (co-)edited five anthologies on Nordic cinema and literature, most recently A History of Danish Cinema with Isak Thorsen and Pei-Sze Chow (Edinburgh University Press, 2020) and Nordic Media Histories of Propaganda and Persuasion with Fredrik Norén and Emil Stjernholm (Palgrave, 2022, open access). I am currently (not) finishing a book on unfinished and unmade films by Dreyer, Bergman and von Trier.

I am a Director of Norvik Press (www.norvikpress.com) and an editor of the Danish Film Institute's open access journal Kosmorama (kosmorama.org). I enjoy occasional Danish-English translation projects; my translation of Kristoffer Hegnsvad's book Werner Herzog: Ecstatic Truth and Other Useless Conquests was published by Reaktion in 2021.

I enjoy sharing my research in different formats, including a number of stand-up comedy sets for Bright Club, and podcasts such as the BBC's Boring Talks.

Teaching summary

Currently, I teach Nordic Cinema as an option module for MA Film Studies students, and contribute to the MA Film Studies core course with teaching on early cinema, documentary and informational cinema. I have previously taught general cinema courses at undergraduate and MA level, Nordic cultural history, Danish language, and translation from the Scandinavian languages. 

I have supervised ten PhD students, on topics encompassing cinema and national identity, cinema and architecture, translation of Danish and Swedish literature, and Dano-Chinese co-production.


University of Edinburgh
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2003
University of East Anglia
Other qualification, Advanced Certificate | 2001
University of Edinburgh
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 1997
University of Edinburgh
Other higher degree, Master of Arts (Hons) | 1996


Born in Lanarkshire and a proud alumna of Carluke High School, I studied EU Studies with French and Danish at the University of Edinburgh, followed by an M.Sc. in Translation and a PhD in Danish literature, also at the University of Edinburgh. I lectured in Contemporary Scandinavian Studies at the University of East Anglia for four years, before taking up a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at UCL in 2004. I was later appointed to a lectureship at the Department of Scandinavian Studies at UCL, and was Head of Department from 2009 to 2013, before spending a year as a Visiting Researcher at the Danish Film Institute in Copenhagen. After a few years as Director of MA Film Studies and Graduate Tutor for Taught Programmes, from September 2022 I have taken on the role of Director of the School of European Languages, Culture and Society and the Centre for Multidisciplinary and Intercultural Inquiry.