Richard Allen’s research interests as a scholar began in the areas of film theory and the philosophy of film. His first book, Projecting Illusion (Cambridge University Press, 1997), articulated a sophisticated version of the illusion theory of representation as a basis for defending a psychoanalytic conception of spectatorship. In addition, he edited, with Murray Smith, one of the first anthologies of analytic film theory, in the philosophical sense of "analytic," entitled Film Theory and Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 1999). Without relinquishing a belief in the value of conceptual clarity within humanistic inquiry, his work has moved towards a revised conception of theory that is manifest in Wittgenstein, Theory, and the Arts (Routledge, 2001), co-edited with Malcolm Turvey.
Allen’s research has focused mostly upon film poetics and aesthetics. He is internationally renowned as a scholar of Alfred Hitchcock. He organized the Hitchcock Centennial Conference in 1999 that co-incided with the publication of Hitchcock: Centennial Essays (BFI, 1999), and he has edited two other anthologies on Hitchcock. In addition to writing 15 scholarly articles on Hitchcock, he is the author of Hitchcock’s Romantic Irony (Columbia University Press, 2007) that examines the relationship between sexuality and style in Hitchcock’s work. Since 2001 he has edited, with Sid Gottlieb, the Hitchcock Annual (Columbia University Press).
More recently, Allen has been working on Hindi cinema, commonly known as Bollywood. He collaborated with Ira Bhaskar (Jawarharlal Nehru University) on curating a film festival in Abu Dhabi and New York -- Muslim Cultures of Bombay Cinema--and writing an accompanying book Islamicate Cultures of Bombay Cinema (Tulika, 2009). Allen is currently completing a manuscript entitled Bollywood Poetics. Growing out of this work, his newest research is about the relationship between Affective Piety and Melodrama. His article, “The Passion of Christ and the Melodramatic Imagination,” is forthcoming in Melodrama Unbound, edited by Gledhill and Williams.