Associate Professor of Radio-Television-Film, Mary Beltrán specializes in critical and cultural studies-driven scholarship at the intersections of television and film studies, critical race studies, and gender studies. She is also a Faculty Affiliate of the Centers for Women’s and Gender Studies and Mexican American Studies.
Inspired by her prior careers as a journalist and social worker and her own bicultural upbringing, in her research and teaching, Dr. Beltrán explores the construction of race, class, and gender in U.S. television, film, and celebrity culture and particularly how media texts and producers articulate and challenge group identities and social hierarchies through popular media. Within this work, she has specialized in particular on Latina and Latino and mixed race representation and participation in Hollywood film and American narrative television. She writes and teaches on Latina/o media studies, mixed race and media culture, “post-racial” media trends, feminist media studies, celebrity studies, U.S. television and film history, and media activism and DIY media movements.
Mary has published and presented on a wide variety of topics, including the evolution of Latina/o film and television production and stardom since the 1920s, the implications of the rising visibility of mixed-race actors and characters, strategies on the part of television networks to appeal to more diverse audiences, the new “semi-Latina” stars of contemporary tween television, and the rise of Latina/o web television. She is the author of Latina/o Stars in U.S. Eyes: The Making and Meanings of Film and TV Stardom (University of Illinois Press, 2009) and co-editor, with Camilla Fojas, of Mixed Race Hollywood (NYU Press, 2008). Her recent and forthcoming publications include the essays “Fast and Bilingual: The Fast Franchise’s Lucrative Embodiment of U.S. Borderlands,” “SNL’s ‘Fauxbama’ Debate: Facing Off Over Millennial Mixed(-Racial) Impersonation,” and “Una Nueva Frontera for Latinos in Web Television,” co-authored with RTF graduate student Vittoria Rodriguez. She also is working on a planned new book, Over the Rainbow: Beyond Post-Racial Fantasy in Millennial Film and Television. She has served on the editorial boards of such journals as Feminist Media Studies, Critical Mixed Race Studies, Celebrity Studies, Cinema Journal, and Communication Monographs, and serves as a Board Member of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.
In the RTF Department, Mary serves as the Faculty Advisor for Flow, the department’s online journal of television and media studies, and has served as Co-Faculty Advisor for the last two iterations of the Flow Conference. Since 2005 she also has served as one of the Faculty Advisors for The Velvet Light Trap, the film and media studies journal collectively edited by graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.