In Memoriam: Jennifer Hammett

Tuesday, October 03, 2017
Photo of Jennifer Hammett in a seat in Coppola Theatre

Associate Professor of Cinema Jennifer Hammett died on August 20 after battling severe illness for many years. She was 65.

“Despite all her courage and amazing strength of will, she could not defeat the insurmountable odds that kept stacking against her health,” an obituary on the School of Cinema website states. “Her friends, colleagues and students are reeling from the loss of a most precious spirit and comrade, but are grateful for all she did for us, our students and the school.”

Hammett was a scholar of American and International film history and criticism. Her work in feminist and post-modern theory was admired internationally. Hammett was on the cusp of publishing a book excavating the structure, expressive potential and poetic ontology of short-format film.

Professor Hammett’s devotion to excellence in teaching was legendary among students, her colleagues and across the University. Her lectures and assignments, dovetailed by her rigor of thought and high expectations for student work, were graced with a caring and compassionate humanity, sense of humor and insightful feedback. She specialized in the creation of clear, concise and analytic critical writing, developing the School of Cinema’s Writing Across the Curriculum course (CINE 303) and Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement.

Hammett introduced a popular lecture course on the history and analysis of short films. A committed pragmatist, her formal training in law and in rhetoric informed her approach to theory and aesthetics.

Hammett also was a filmmaker. In collaboration with noted photographer Camille Seaman, she produced Habits of Faith, an experimental documentary about an 86-year-old female print artist, and a short documentary on sexual assault in the military, with SF State’s Veteran Documentary Corps.

Hammett’s watchword for her graduate students was to “believe in your students. Don’t judge them — always assume they are acting in good faith.”

Donations in Hammett’s memory can be made to the Jennifer Hammett Memorial Endowment Fund.

The School of Cinema presents a celebration of Professor Hammett’s life at 9:30am October 7 in the Fine Arts Building, Coppola Theatre. To share a memory, photography or thought in Hammett’s memory, contact David Joseph Jung at

Photo by Hannah Anderson

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