Professor Keil works in film history and specializes in early cinema (pre-1915) of the U.S. He has concentrated on the period he has labelled ‘transitional,’ the years between 1907 and 1913 when significant changes occurred to industrial structure, production, distribution, and exhibition practices, and film form.
Beyond numerous essays, three of his books, Early American Cinema in Transition: Story, Style and Filmmaking, 1907-1913 (University of Wisconsin Press, 2001), American Cinema’s Transitional Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices, co-edited with Shelley Stamp (University of California Press, 2004), and American Cinema of the 1910s, co-edited with Ben Singer (Rutgers University Press, 2009), have focussed on this period. His other books include: Funny Pictures: Animation and Comedy in Studio-Era Hollywood, co-edited with Daniel Goldmark (University of California Press, 2011), Beyond the Screen: Institutions, Networks, and Publics of Early Cinema, co-edited with Marta Braun, Rob King, Paul Moore, and Louis Pelletier (John Libbey / Indiana University Press, 2012), and Editing / Special Visual Effects, co-edited with Kristen Whissel (Rutgers University Press, 2016). Volumes in preparation include: A Companion to D.W. Griffith (Wiley-Blackwell); The Oxford Handbook of Early Cinema, co-edited with Rob King; and a study of the establishment of Hollywood, co-authored with Denise McKenna (University of California Press).
Beyond the above-listed books, Professor Keil has also published on documentary, cinema and theatre, authorship, stardom, and contemporary cinema. In collaboration with Marta Braun of Ryerson University, he has been engaged in a longstanding research project that entails the creation of an online database of films shot in Ontario during the silent era.