Directory Profile

TreaAndrea Russworm, Ph.D.

Professor of Cinematic Arts
Microsoft Endowed Chair

Affiliated Divisions:

Interactive Media & Games Division


TreaAndrea M. Russworm earned her B.A. at Brown University and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. An interdisciplinary media scholar, Russworm’s areas of focus include video games and digital media, African American popular culture, film and media studies, psychoanalytic and postmodern theories, and post 1950s American popular fictions. She is a Series Editor of the book series Power Play: Games, Politics, Culture (Duke University Press) and she was an inaugural Associate Editor of Outreach and Equity for the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies.

Russworm’s scholarship and interviews have been featured on CNN, The History Channel, in podcasts, and on streaming platforms like Twitch. Her research has also been published in peer-reviewed journals including The Velvet Light Trap, Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Feminist Media Histories, and Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. She is currently writing a new monograph on the popular video game franchise The Sims, and she is co-editing a book on speculative culture, antiracism, and games. She recently guest edited a double special issue on Blackness and Play in the American Journal of Play (Winter/Spring 2022).

Professor Russworm is also the author or editor of three other published books: Blackness is Burning: Civil Rights, Popular Culture, and the Problem of Recognition (Wayne State University Press, 2016); From Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry (University of Mississippi Press, 2016); and Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games (Indiana University Press, 2017). Blackness is Burning is the first book to examine the ways race and psychological rhetoric collided in the public and popular culture of the civil rights era. In analyzing a range of popular forms, including Sidney Poitier’s popular films, black mother and daughter family melodramas, Black pimp narratives, and Bill Cosby’s comedy routines and cartoon Fat Albert, Russworm identifies and problematizes the many ways in which psychoanalytic culture has functioned as a governing racial ideology that is built around a flawed understanding of trying to "recognize" the racial other as human.

In Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games, with co-editor Jennifer Malkowski, Russworm argues that the dominant exclusionary and dismissive attitudes regarding race, gender, and sexuality in game studies (and in public discourses about games) have misunderstood both the nature and importance of representation in the medium. The influential book’s central interdisciplinary intervention modeled a way for game studies scholars across fields to treat representation as “a system that functions as akin to—rather than as a distraction from—the discipline’s more celebrated, ‘hardcore’ objects of study.”

A passionate teacher who has been teaching at the college level for more than twenty years, Professor Russworm has taught popular and well-received classes at The University of Chicago, UC Berkeley, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. At UMass Amherst she created and directed the specialization in Games and Interactive Narrative and she directed the first student-led game design studio. Experienced in team-based learning (TBL) pedagogies, Professor Russworm’s project-centered classes on games and popular culture focus on the theoretical, cultural, and social utility of games and other media.  She is also the founder of Radical Play, a games-based public humanities initiative and afterschool program for BIPOC junior high and high school students.