My research focuses on 20th- and 21st-century American literature, culture, and visual art. I am interested in the relationship between affect and aesthetics and how represented violence functions as a nexus of form and feeling. My current book project, Senseless Violence and the Aesthetics of the Margins, examines scenes of senseless violence in post-1945 American literature and art by Andy Warhol, James Baldwin, Flannery O’Connor, Yoko Ono, Jamaica Kincaid, Jenny Holzer, Kathy Acker, Kathleen Hanna, Toni Morrison, and Kara Walker. In five chapters, I define five forms of senseless violence and show how their form modulates feeling: the frame that freezes audiences in the stance of shame; the happening that stages a surprising encounter; the manifesto that circulates anger between text and audience; the collage that enables an engaging form of shock; and the silhouette that modulates disgust. Each chapter links form to feeling to show how senseless violence engages audiences in ethically-fraught dynamics that echo real-world negotiations of violation. For a longer description of this project, click here.
I am also at work on a study of hybrid forms in 21st-century slavery narratives; I will present my research at the Newberry Library in February 2018. Additional research interests include modernism and postmodernism, contemporary fiction, the phenomenology of reading, aesthetics, critical race theory, gender and sexuality studies, visual culture, riot grrrl zines, girlhood in 20th-century American culture, American avant-garde formations, the concept of consent in contemporary culture, and the role of fashion and clothing in women’s experimental fiction. My research has been generously supported by the University of Virginia, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Duke University Libraries.