Lisa D. Kernan, 53; UCLA Arts Librarian, Expert on Movie Trailers

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Lisa D. Kernan, 53, a UCLA arts librarian, photographer and film scholar who was an expert on movie trailers, died of cancer Sunday at her Los Angeles home.

Kernan’s doctoral dissertation was published by University of Texas Press in 2004 as “Coming Attractions: Reading American Movie Trailers.” She considered trailers worthy of scholarly study.

“Movie trailers are a unique form of cinema; they’re ads for films, yet they’re also little films themselves,” she recently told an interviewer. She believed that the study of trailers would take on increasing importance because of “the crucial role that marketing plays in the ways meanings are produced within popular film.”


A native of Watertown, N.Y., Kernan grew up in Northern California and Washington, D.C. Her father, Michael, was a novelist and longtime feature writer for the Washington Post, while her mother, Margot Starr Kernan, is a retired professor of film studies and a video artist.

Kernan received a bachelor’s degree in humanities from New College in Sarasota, Fla., and a master’s in library science at Columbia University.

She worked in the photography department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and as film librarian for Lucasfilm Ltd. before returning to school to earn a master’s in film studies from San Francisco State in 1991.

An archival fellowship at the UCLA Film and Television Archive brought her to Los Angeles in 1991.

After a brief interlude as librarian and archivist for Warner Bros.’ Feature Animation Studio, she returned to UCLA in 1998 as arts librarian for film, television and theater. She earned a doctorate from UCLA in film and television critical studies in 2000.