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Alain J.-J. Cohen

Ph.D. (UCLA)

Professor of Comparative/French Literature & Film Studies

Primary Office: Contact Department
Primary Phone: Contact Department
Quarterly Office Hours

Email: ajjcohen@ucsd.edu

Professor of Comparative Literature and Film Studies at the University of California, San Diego where he has spent his career.


  • B.A. in philosophy, McGill University.
  • Ph.D. in literature (emphasis in philosophy and cinema), UCLA. & Independent doc and postdoc research in France and in Italy.
  • Psychoanalyst, Graduate from SDPSI (San Diego Psychoanalytic Society and Institute), Adult Psychoanalytic Training Program. (Member, American Psychoanalytic Association.)

Alain J.-J. Cohen has a pluri-disciplinary and multi-national formation in film studies, aesthetics and philosophy, literary theory, clinical and theoretical psychoanalysis (from Freud and Lacan to today’s multiple schools of psychoanalysis), semiotics (C.S. Peirce, A.-J. Greimas, to the present), the history and analysis of cinema, and art history. Through his teaching and research, Cohen has been dedicated to the dissemination of (1) psychoanalysis, (2) cinema studies and (3) semiotics.


Cohen has single-authored 100-odd research articles (see most recent ones below) in professional journals and scholarly volumes, and presented 250 papers at invited lectures and conferences around the world. Interweaving research in semiotic and psychoanalytic methods into the technical study of cinema with the advent of new technologies, he has written extensively about the films of such auteurs-filmmakers as S. Eisenstein, J.-L. Godard, C. Marker, O. Welles, A. Hitchcock, S. Kubrick, P. Greenaway, D. Lynch, M. Scorsese, as well as Billy Wilder, R. Mamoulian, W. Allen, R. Scott, O. Stone, Q. Tarantino, T. Gilliam, M. Forman, S. Spielberg, D. Cronenberg, S. Frears, P. Verhoeven, R-W. Fassbinder, J. Demme, P. Schrader, et al., to highlight methods of film analysis, psychoanalytic approaches to cinema, the aesthetics of the filmic image, aggression and the rhetoric of violence and contemporary US cinema. 

He has also contributed research articles about some of the major figures of "French theory" (JP.Sartre, R.Barthes, J.Lacan, AJ.Greimas, M.Foucault, J.Baudrillard, H.Damisch, C.Lévi-Strauss, L.Marin, Ch. Metz (or to their Festschriften). He is author or co-auth of four books: Marcuse. Le Scénario Freudo-Marxien, 1974, Le Récit Évangélique, 1976 (collab. auth. with L. Marin, Cl. Chabrol), Russell Forester. Unauthorized Autobiography, 1997, (co-auth. with M. Zakian), Les autres Arts dans l’Art du Cinéma, 2007, (co-auth. and ed. with D. Sipière.)

He curated 45 art exhibitions at the UCSD Faculty Club gallery (e.g. Aesthetics of Science in 2003), made a documentary film and done a few TV programs on questions of cinema (on Godard, Kubrick, Woody Allen, War Cinema, Painting in Cinema, Photography in Cinema.) Over the years he has been a plenary speaker at meetings of CISeL, AISS, IASS, SCC, SERCiA, UCIPC, AFEA, IAVS. Cohen was Visiting Professor at UC Irvine (Spring 2000), at the University of Poitiers (Programme de cinéma, 2001), and involved inter alia with GRSL (Groupe de recherches sémio-linguistiques,) SCC (Semiotic Circle of California,) SERCiA (Société pour l’étude et la recherche du cinéma américain,) every summer from 1975 to the present with the Centro Internazionale di Semiotica in Urbino, Italy, and SDPC (San Diego Psychoanalytic Center.) 

Most Recent Publications

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2015). “Polemology and Tractatology. Revisiting the INF 1987 Treaty’s Agonistics.”  Interdisciplinary Journal of Germanic Linguistics and Semiotic Analysis, 20 (2), 215-233

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2014). Daldry’s The Reader: Surviving/Not Forgiving the Holocaust.” Memory in Cinema. Paris, Houdiard, 169-180 (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2013). “Ruins: Reflections on Aggression and Destruction in Aesthetics.” B. Antomarini & A. Berg (eds), Aesthetics in Present Future. The Arts and the Technological Horizon. Lanham, New York, Plymouth (UK), Lexington Books, 149-162  (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2012). “The Killing dans l’oeuvre de Kubrick. Rythme et silence de la voix off.” B. Gauthier (eds), Kubrick. Les Films Les musiques, Paris, Editions L’Entretemps, 29-45 (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2010) “Semiotics of the Nude Figure in Cinema.” M. Costantini (eds), La sémiotique visuelle : Nouveaux paradigmes, Paris, Collection Eidos, L'Harmattan, 271-286 (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2010) “Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers. Aggressivity and Sublimation in Film and Painting.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Germanic Linguistics and Semiotic Analysis, 15 (2), 135-162

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2009) “Le Neutre et l'auto-analyse de Roland Barthes. Anamorphoses du deuil et de la mélancolie.” S. Badir & D. Ducard (eds), Roland Barthes en cours (1977-1980) : Un style de vie, Presses Universitaires de Dijon, 31-40 (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2008) “Towards a Psychoanalytic Perspective on Angels and Counter-angelic Agencies.” A. J. J. Cohen, P. Ricci, N. Roelens, P. Paioni (eds), La parte dell'angelo, Vols 1 &2, Documenti di lavoro Edition, Urbino, Centro Internazionale di Semiotica, 56-62   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2008) “Oliver Stone's JFK and Ralph Greenson's Psychoanalysis of Marilyn Monroe. Three Theses on the Synergy between History and Mythology.” M. Stokes & G. Menegaldo (eds),  Cinema and History, Paris, Michel Houdiard, 333-346   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2008) “Nude vs Naked in Films of Kubrick, Godard and Greenaway.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Germanic Linguistics and Semiotic Analysis, 13 (1), 1-26

Alain J.-J. Cohen & Dominique Sipière (2007) Les autres arts dans l'art du cinéma, Presses Universitaires de Rennes (book)

Alain J.-J. Cohen & Dominique Sipière (2007) “Introduction: Scorsese peintre. Losey musicien. Kubrick chorégraphe.” In A. J. J. Cohen, D. Sipiere (eds), Les autres arts dans l'art du cinéma, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 3-8   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2007) “Cinéma et Peinture. Figures et abstractions.”  A. J. J. Cohen, D. Sipiere (eds), Les autres arts dans l'art du cinéma, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 15-30   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2005) “Three Dangerous Liaisons. Letter 81 filmed by Vadim, Forman and Frears.” Iris. A Journal of Theory on Image and Sound, 30, 55-71

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2005) “Kubrick. The Filmmaker as Philosopher. Film Form Film Sense Revisited.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Germanic Linguistics and Semiotic Analysis, 10 (2), 203-230

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2005) “Simulacres. Lire Baudrillard à l'ère filmique numérique.” F. Ferreira & D. Mellier. (eds), Métaphores d'Epoque 1985-2000, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 187-205   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2004) “Semiotics of Virtual Reality Films.” Visio, 9 (1-2), 271-280

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2004) “L'Io Lacaniano nell'era digitale.” [“The Lacanian `I' in the Digital Age.”], Psiche. Rivista di Cultura Psicoanalitica, XII (1), 107-117

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2004) “Simulacri del cinema culinario.” B. Antomarini & B. Biscuso (eds), Del gusto e della fame. Teorie dell'alimentazione, Montag Book Coll Edition, Roma, manifestolibri, 180-186   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2004) “Laclos's Epistolary Battlefield and Filmic Semiotics.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Germanic Linguistics and Semiotic Analysis, 9 (2), 165-183

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2004) “Woody Allen and Freud.” J. Brandell (eds), Celluloid Couches, Cinematic Clients. Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in the Movies, Albany, SUNY Press, 127-145   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2003) “12 Monkeys, Vertigo and La Jetée: Postmodern Mythologies and Cult Films.” [with variations, transl. W. Buckland] New Review of Film and Television Studies. Vol. 1.1, November 2003, 146-163

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2003) “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde de Mamoulian. Morphing postmoderne. Portraiture baroque,” G. Menegaldo & J. P. Naugrette (eds), R. L. Stevenson & A. Conan Doyle. Aventures de la Fiction, Rennes, Terre de Brume, 393-407   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2003) “János Négyesy. Ut Pictura Musica.” Ex Tempore. A Journal of Compositional and Theoretical Research in Music. Vol. X/2, Spring/Summer (2003) 1-13

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2002) “Mythologies postmodernes et films cultes.” M. Stokes, R. Humphries & G. Menegaldo (eds), Mythe et Cinéma, Poitiers, La Licorne, 267-283   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2002) “Blade Runner as Filmic Critique of Postmodern Judgment.” P. Bertetti & C. Scolari (eds), Lo Sguardo degli Angeli. Intorno e oltre Blade Runner, Torino, Italy, Testo & Immagine, 3-30   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2002) “De l'épistémè moderniste a l'épistémè numérique. La mise-en-corps 1900. La mise-en-corps 2000.” N. Roelens & W. Strauven (eds), Homo Orthopedicus. Le corps et ses prothèses à l'époque (post) moderniste, Paris, L'Harmattan, 401-412   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2001) “Greek models for postmodern times. Foucault and Lacan on ethics and the arts of existence.” Dalhousie French Studies, 54, 105-114

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2001) “Piero della Francesca's Flagellation. The painter as filmmaker.” Visio, 5  (4), 99-111 [with variations from the Italian version “La Flagellazione di Piero della Francesca.  Il pittore come regista.” Il Cannocchiale, Rivista di studi  filosofici,  2 (2000) 11-32]

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2001) “A Clockwork Orange de Kubrick. La violence et la règle.” A. Mantandon (eds), L'hospitalité: signes et rites, Clermont-Ferrand, Presses Universitaires Blaise Pascal, 257-267   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2001) “Virtual Hollywood and the Genealogy of its Hyper-Spectator.” M. Stokes, R. Maltby (eds), Hollywood spectatorship. Changing perceptions of cinema audiences, London, British Film Institute Publications, 152-164   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2001) “Kubrick's The Shining. Semiotics of the Labyrinth.” S. Simpkins & al. (eds), Semiotics 2000, New York & Ottawa, Legas Press, 183-197   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2001) “Kubrick: Ethique et esthétique de la Voix Off.” S. Badir & H. Parret (eds), Puissances de la voix., Presses Universitaires de Limoges, 189-203   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2000) “Semio-Cybernetics of Visual Memory.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Germanic Linguistics and Semiotic Analysis, 5 (2), 230-244

Alain J.-J. Cohen (2000) “Woody Allen's Zelig. A Simulation Documentary." S. Simpkins & al. (eds), Semiotics 1999, Bern & New York, Peter Lang, 315-331   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (1999) “Three Madame Bovarys. Renoir, Minelli, Chabrol ." J. Bignell (eds), Writing and Cinema, Harlow, UK, Addison, Wesley, Longman, 119-133   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (1999) “Lynch's Lost Highway. A Postmodern Whodunnit.” G. Menegaldo (eds), Les Récits Policiers au Cinéma, Poitiers, La Licorne, 205-224   (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (1998) “The Passion for Gossip and the Power of Convention. Tarantino and Flaubert.” Versus. Quaderni di studi semiotici., 79, 79-93

Alain J.-J. Cohen (1998) “La citation du Mépris de Godard dans Casino de Scorsese." G. Menegaldo (eds), Le cinéma en détails, Poitiers, La Licorne, 193-207  (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (1998) “Some Like It Hot. Billy Wilder's virtuoso strategies of laughter and play." G. Carr, W. Harbert, L. Zhang (eds), Interdigitations. Essays for Irmengard Rauch, Bern, Peter Lang, 667-680  (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (1997) “Natural Born Killers. Rhythms of the filmic image and styles of Violence.” W. Nöth (eds), Semiotics of the Media: State of the Art, Berlin/New York, Mouton de Gruyter, 239-254  (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (1997) “Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible in Chess Ecstasy.” I. Rauch, G. Carr (eds), Semiotics around the World: Synthesis in Diversity. Proceedings of the Fifth Congress of the International Association forSemiotic Studies, Berlin/New York, Mouton de Gruyter, 603-607  (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (1997) “Tarantino. Mise-en-scène and Rituals of Duels.” Poitiers, La Licorne,  234-246  (bookchapter)

Alain J.-J. Cohen (1996) “Blade Runner: Aesthetics of Agonistics and the Law of Response.” Il Cannocchiale. Rivista di studi filosofici, 3, 43-58

Alain J.-J. Cohen (1996) “Godard et la passion du féminin.” Vertigo. Revue de Cinéma et d'Esthétique, 14, 111-118

Alain J.-J. Cohen (1996) Stochastics of Sex and Death in Basic (Filmic) Instinct.” Semiotica, (Special Issue Christian Metz) 112 (1/2), 109-122

Alain J.-J. Cohen (1996) “Freud's Paradox of Temporality: A Semiotic Perspective. Freud's Nachträglichkeit. Lacan's Schema `R'.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Germanic Linguistics and Semiotic Analysis, 1 (1), 21-40

Alain J.-J. Cohen (1995) “La Méduse du Caravaggio/ La Jetée de Chris Marker. Chiasmes pour Louis Marin.” Hommages à Louis Marin. Documenti di lavoro Edition, Urbino, Centro Internazionale di Semiotica, 1-19  (bookchapter)