David Thorburn

David Thorburn is MacVicar Faculty Fellow and Director of the MIT Communications Forum. David received his A.B. degree from Princeton, his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford and taught in the English Department at Yale for ten years before joining the MIT Literature faculty in 1976. He is the author of Conrad’s Romanticism and many essays and reviews on literary, cultural and media topics. He has edited collections of essays on romanticism and on John Updike as well as a widely used anthology of fiction, Initiation.

His course on American television was one of the first in the country to examine the medium in a humanistic context. Prof. Thorburn was the founder and for twelve years the Director of the Film and Media Studies Program and is a former Director of the Cultural Studies Project.

He is currently the director of the MIT Communications Forum which sponsors along with the Program in Comparative Media Studies a series of lectures, forums and Web-based activities comparing our current experience of changing media with earlier periods of cultural and technological transformation. In 2002, Prof. Thorburn was named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow in recognition of his contributions to undergraduate education.

Read the Community Profile of David Thorburn on the website of the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences (SHASS).

David Thorburn, a founder of Pleasures of Poetry, has taught Literature at MIT since 1976. His first book of poems, Knots, was published in 2020.

Subjects taught the current academic year:

21L.485 Modern Fiction: Twentieth Century Masters (Spring 2022)


Subjects taught in recent years:

21L.003 Reading Fiction (Fall 2019)

21L.011 Introduction to Film Studies (Spring 2019)

21L.433 Film Styles and Genres: Hollywood Renaissance - American Film in the 1970's (Fall 2019)

21L.485 Modern Fiction: Twentieth Century Masters (Spring 2022)

21L.485 Modern Fiction: Twentieth Century Fiction: Modernist Masters (Spring 2020)

David Thorburn
Buster Keaton: comedy and art.