Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa

Jun 18, 2023

The Celluloid Specimen

Moving Image Research into Animal Life

University of California Press 2023

In The Celluloid Specimen: Moving Image Research into Animal Life (U of California Press, 2023), Benjamín Schultz‑Figueroa examines rarely seen behaviorist films of animal experiments from the 1930s and 1940s. These laboratory recordings—including Robert Yerkes's work with North American primate colonies, Yale University's rat‑based simulations of human society, and B. F. Skinner's promotions for pigeon‑guided missiles—have long been considered passive records of scientific research. In Schultz‑Figueroa's incisive analysis, however, they are revealed to be rich historical, political, and aesthetic texts that played a crucial role in American scientific and cultural history—and remain foundational to contemporary conceptions of species, race, identity, and society.

A free ebook version of this title is available through Luminos, University of California Press’s Open Access publishing program. Visit to learn more.

Dr. Benjamín Schultz-Figueroa is Assistant Professor in Film Studies at Seattle University. His research focuses on the history of scientific filmmaking, nontheatrical film, and animal studies. Among other venues, his writing has been published in JCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Film History, Millennium Film Journal, The Brooklyn Rail and Journal of Environmental Media.

Callie Smith is a poet and museum educator with a PhD in English. She currently lives in Louisiana.

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