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Headshot of Bernadette Salem

Bernadette D. Salem

Professor of Film Studies


PhD., Lancaster University, Film Studies, 2020
M.A., Lancaster University, Film Studies, 2015
B.A., Vassar College, Film Studies, 2011


Bernadette Salem holds a PhD in film studies from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, and has taught courses in both modernism in the arts and film at Lancaster University and Front Range Community College. Bernadette is the director of the award-winning science fiction film Space Tourist which placed as a semi-finalist in the Denver International Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Festival, and was also screened at the Great Lakes International Film Festival. Bernadette has also directed and edited a number of shorts. Her doctoral dissertation is centered on cinematic depictions of space tourism in science fiction from the early 1900s to the contemporary, in relation with historical moments of technological and societal transformation.

How did you discover Western?

After completing my PhD I was living in Denver and applying for jobs like any recent graduate student; just when it seemed like there was no light at the end of the tunnel, I came across information about Western Colorado University. The more I learned about Western, the more intrigued I was, and fell in love with Gunnison and the University. From there, everything just fell into place!

What are some of the highlights of your career?

The many students, mentors, colleagues, and friends I have met along the way have been the highlight of my career and are the reason I went into teaching. Doing my MA and PhD abroad in England was another highlight, which allowed me to travel to events, cities, and conferences across Europe, and gain a broader view of the world.

What most excites you about your field?

What is most exciting about film studies is the growing diversity of films that I encounter while teaching and researching; film brings together all of the things I love – including arts, literature, music, images, culture, and photography – into one medium. Through film I’ve learned about seemingly endless cultures which exist all around the world, and ‘traveled’ to places I would otherwise never have experienced. Film shows us what life is all about and how to live it!

What is your favorite thing about the Gunnison Valley?

There are no words that could do Gunnison justice – the vistas of rivers and mountains and open plains, the people, the mom and pop shops, the University, the culture, and the endless opportunities to try different sports – are all part of what makes Gunnison simultanously the most beautiful and magical place I have ever lived. It is exactly the sort of place you visit and never want to leave!

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