• Contact Info
Publications in VIVO

Coombs Esmail, Eric David

Assistant Professor


Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • As a practitioner with a strong theoretical foundation, I employ film to work with communities and histories that manifest issues of indigeneity, diaspora, sovereignty, spirituality, landscape, and the politics of human migration. I am trained as a cinematographer and camera operator and I work primarily in moving image making, producing documentary and fictional features and shorts, media essays, and media ethnographies. Technically proficient across media modalities, I also develop web applications and work in sound, performance, extended realities, and installation. My written work includes papers on documentary philosophy and critical media pedagogies.


  • Documentary, Critical Pedagogy


selected publications


courses taught

  • CMDP 1400 - Introduction to Contemporary Media Cultures
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2024
    Prepares students for critical practices in contemporary media cultures in a global context. Explores the diversity of media practices, including narrative and non-narrative forms, emphasizing aesthetics and visual studies. In lectures and recitations students will explore video, sound, the internet and other multi-media platforms of expression.
  • CMDP 2500 - Introduction to Media Practices
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Summer 2018 / Fall 2018 / Spring 2019 / Summer 2019 / Summer 2020
    Working in design groups, students will explore the expressive potential of media through the production of short projects, discussions, readings, formal analysis, and critique. Provide a basic introduction to media practices as an extension of "visual thinking" and through approaches to storytelling, and hybrid media forms.
  • CMDP 3350 - Modes of Documentary Media History
    Primary Instructor - Summer 2021 / Summer 2022
    Introduces students to the variety of practices by examining their emergence, evolution and cultural impact in the global sphere. Students discover the major themes and genres in documentary work from photography, cinema, audio, hypermedia and the public debates they have engendered. Through lectures, screenings and research, develop critical perspectives on the international and transcultural dimensions of documentary media history.
  • CMDP 3600 - Creative Media Making
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018 / Spring 2019
    Focus on developing an understanding of the principles, forms and aesthetics of media production. Working in design groups on small-scale media preproduction and production exercises, screenings and critiques, students learn creative solutions to problems in realizing expressive media projects. Formerly CMDP 2600.
  • CMDP 3800 - Documentary Media Poetics
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2020 / Fall 2022
    Investigates documentary cinema and media practices through class discussions, research papers, hands on exercises and the screenings. Cross-references documentary photography and moving-image documentary in the production of short digital projects. Explores the distinctive contributions of digital technologies to documentary image making. Formerly CMDP 2810.
  • CMDP 3810 - Engaged Documentary Media Practices
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018 / Fall 2019 / Spring 2021
    Combining research, scripting methods and field trips, students produce short media non-fiction storytelling projects emerging from an engagement with historical events, contemporary issues and the world around us.
  • CMDP 4810 - Advanced Documentary Practices
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Spring 2020 / Spring 2022
    Combine research and production to produce short documentary media projects, which explore the world we live in. Focusing on practice, this course explores stylistic options employed on documentaries that give voice to different perspectives on the world. Students will be able to identify the tactics and strategies of documentaries in a variety of media, and will include visits with professional documentary makers. Students will complete a final documentary project.
  • CMDP 4900 - Concepts and Practices of Contemporary Media
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019 / Fall 2019 / Spring 2020 / Fall 2020
    Explores the application of new media technologies in depth and engages students in an ongoing dialogue about the cultural context of new media technologies and their own work. Students will produce a major media project that synthesizes methods of media making into modes of communication and expression. This is the capstone course for undergraduates in Media Production.
  • CMDP 4931 - Internship
    Primary Instructor - Summer 2018 / Fall 2018 / Spring 2019 / Summer 2019 / Spring 2020
  • CMDP 5600 - Documentary Lab Seminar
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2020 / Spring 2021 / Spring 2022 / Fall 2022 / Spring 2023 / Spring 2024
    Explores and workshops documentary media projects and ideas from a variety of disciplines. A team-taught course, with affiliated faculty working in design groups within the documentary lab in one or more areas, such as Art and Art History, Anthropology or Geography. A total of 12 hours are required for IDMP MFA candidates.
  • CMDP 7500 - Production Methods I
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    Provides technical resources for students to work with emergent technologies in a media arts context. This is a team-taught, practice-based course addressing various production methods, from moving image and video to web and network media to computational media.


International Activities