Graduate Studies


Faculty & Staff

Faculty in the PhD Media & Information Studies program are drawn from the departments of Advertising and Public Relations (AD+PR), Communication (COMM), Telecommunication Information Studies and Media (TISM) and the School of Journalism in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

Photo of  Swarnavel  Pillai Ph.D.

Swarnavel Pillai Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Media and Information


Dr. Swarnavel Eswaran Pillai is an assistant professor in the English, and Media and Information Departments at Michigan State University. He is a graduate from the Film and Television Institute of India, the premier Film School in Asia, and the prestigious University of Iowa, at Iowa City. He is an accomplished filmmaker, and his recent documentaries include Unfinished Journey: A City in Transition (2012), Migrations of Islam (2014) and Hmong Memory at the Crossroads (2015). His research focuses on the history, theory and production of documentaries, and the specificity of Tamil cinema and its complex relationship with Hollywood as well as popular Hindi films. His recent books are Cinema: Sattagamum Saalaramum (Nizhal, 2013), an anthology of essays on documentaries and experimental films in Tamil and Madras Studios: Narrative, Genre, and Ideology in Tamil Cinema (Sage Publications, 2015).

His recent essays are:
The Texture of Interiority: Voiceover and Visuals,” Studies in Visual Arts and Communication, 2 (1), (2015),

“Enthiran, the Robot: Sujatha, Science Fiction, and Tamil Cinema.” In Jennifer L. Feeley and Sarah Ann Wells eds. Simultaneous Worlds: Global Science Fiction Cinema. Minnesota: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2015, pp. 119-136.

“Tamil B Movie Westerns: The Global South and Genre Subversion,” In Mary Ellen Higgins, Rita Keresztesi, and Dayna Oscherwitz eds. The Western in the Global South. Abingdon, UK and New York: Routledge, 2015, pp. 165-179.

“Dubashi: Indian Film, Cross-Cultural Communication and Screenings for Children.” In Karin Beeler and Stan Beeler eds. Children’s Film in the Digital Age: Essays on Audience, Adaptation and Consumer Culture. Jefferson, N. Carolina: Mcfarland 2015, pp. 148-159.

Courses Taught:
MI 311: Intro to Documentary Production
MI 491 Short Film: Writing and Directing
FLM 451/ENG 818 Postcolonial Cinemas: Indian Cinema
FLM 260: Intro to Digital Cinema and Media
FLM 334: Screenwriting
FLM 336: Aesthetics of Editing

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