Recent Dissertations

2019

Technologies of Incapacitation: US Torture Regimes and the Captive Body

Michelle Christina Potts

Supervisor: Samera Esmeir & Michael Mascuch

2018

Travesti Memory and Politics: Toward a Peruvian Transgender Imaginary

Giancarlo Cornejo Salinas

Supervisor: Trinh Minh-ha

My dissertation, Travesti Memory and Politics: Toward a Peruvian Transgender Imaginary, argues that travestismo is a critical tool by which to read the unstable and contested production of gender, sexuality, and race in contemporary Latin America. My project’s point of departure is the definition of travestismo itself. Travestismo is usually depicted as a sort of unidirectional gender migration from male to female embodiments. This is why I argue that “travesti” as a name cannot be easily translated as “transgender.” Travestismo does not share the transgender indifference to the direction of gender migrations. The fact that travestismo presupposes a particular gendered destination has been read by some scholars as a sign of its reactionary tendencies. The femininity that travestismo constructs as a “final destination” feels dated. The desire for (a sort of anachronistic) femininity at the heart of travestismo seems troubling for some queer, trans, and feminist scholars. However, this tension reveals more about a desire of U.S.-based queer studies to sanitize their objects of study than of travestismo per se. My dissertation contributes to several interdisciplinary fields. My project makes the case for a displacement of the category “transgender” within transgender studies. Travestismo, that vernacular trans identity, is not a name “that sits easily with transgender.” Moreover, yet, my dissertation elaborates on the productive tensions of thinking and imagining travestismo and transgender as proximate to each other, and not in antagonistic ways. In contemporary transgender studies, transfeminism is a framework that offers possibilities for thinking and linking the many forms of oppression and violence that cisgender women and transgender subjects share. In this sense, my dissertation is a transfeminist take on the name travestismo and its imaginary. Thanks to this transfeminist perspective, in my project travestismo is not a break with feminism, but an expansion of feminism to its limits. My dissertation also proposes that queer studies and theories have a lot to gain from an engagement with travestismo, but only if these fields allow themselves to be transformed by such an encounter. My project can be read as an invitation for the cultivation of a hemispheric dialogue around the name “queer.” Such a dialogue in order to be fruitful needs to surrender the name “queer” to the possibilities and limits of translation. I argue that “queer” and “travesti” can be thought together because both names share a refusal to signify only one thing and in only one way. My project contributes to the 2 much-needed effort of displacing the U.S.-based mark of birth of queer theory, cultivating trans-disciplinary and trans-national dialogues around the vernacular name travestismo. Travesti Memory and Politics: Toward a Peruvian Transgender Imaginary opens up the term travestismo with a method I call “travesti memory.” Travesti memory meshes the praxis of remembering and imagining, allowing for unpredicted becomings. In the first chapter I question the romance of ethnography and travestismo, a fixation on travestismo as exclusively an object of ethnographic research, and discuss some of its implications. I offer, through an engagement with postcolonial and queer psychoanalytic theories, an account of the losses that ethnography implies in the effort of imagining a different travesti trajectory. In the second chapter, I move to a close reading of Claudia Llosa’s film Loxoro, a film about transgender kinship and starred by transfeminist activist Belissa Andía. This chapter reads the film next to the political trajectory of its leading actress. Here I argue for the possibility of a language for travestismo that brings justice to travesti’s tears. The third chapter examines the work of the philosopher and curator Giuseppe Campuzano, with a particular emphasis on the work that the name hysteria performs in his essay “Reclaiming Travesti Histories.” The resonances between hysteria and history mobilize gender as an analytical tool with the promise without guarantees of unpacking transgender oppression. In my final chapter, I turn to the LGBTQ theater play Desde afuera, to think on the racialized connotations of travestismo. Here I focus on the collective pronoun nosotrxs and its power to repair some of the scars and wounds produced by racist and homo-transphobic national projects. In the concluding part of my dissertation, reading the photographic record of Campuzano’s performance TransformaT, I propose an imaginary in which travesti death is not-so-final. My dissertation takes Peru as a case study, because this nation offers a radical instance of the aliveness of colonial, racist, and sexist normative violence in the southern cone of Latin America. Precisely for that reason, I trace assemblies of movements, memories, energies, bodies, trajectories, and images, which under the name travestismo are doing a lot of much needed critical political work in contemporary Peru. Throughout my dissertation, travestismo works as name that cannot be easily digested nor accepted by neoliberal logics or dynamics. Travestis, unlike many gay men and lesbians, are not sanitized subjects that aspire to be docile consumers. In my dissertation, I argue that travestismo is both a gendered and racialized category. My conclusion makes a case for thinking travestismo as a name that cultivates a bond with racialized indigenous subjectivities. That queer bond offers a promise for destabilizing the dangerous conjunction of racist, sexist and homo-transphobic normativities. I mobilize travestismo as memory work that refuses to forget queer racialized bonds.

Power of Pretext: Religious Justification in Science Fiction, Scientology, and Society

Lilith Acadia

Supervisor: Daniel Boyarin

Archipelago of Resettlement: Vietnamese Refugee Settlers in Guam and Israel-Palestine

Evyn Espiritu

Supervisor: Trinh T. Minh-ha

2017

Disease and Difference in Three Platonic Diaogues: Gorgias, Phaedo, and Timaeus

Chiara Ricciardone

Supervisor: Ramona Naddaff and GRF Ferrari

The Body in Space: In Search of a Sensuous Dwelling in the Space of Accumulation

Alexandria Wright

Supervisor: Judith Butler

Programming Insight: Human and Machine Intelligence in the Petabyte Age

Osita Udekwu

Supervisor: David W. Bates

Feminist Materials: Quantum Physics and Critical Writing Practices for New Material Feminism

Stacey Moran

Supervisor: David W. Bates

Remittance Fiction: Human Labor Export, Realism, and the Filipino Novel in English

Paul Nadal

Supervisor: Judith Butler, Colleen Lye

The Refugee and Forced Migration Bidungsroman: Coming of Age and Coming into Form through Fictions of Home and Exile (Narrative Studies)

Alexandra Budny

Supervisor: Michael Mascuch

2016

Corporate Personhood(s): The Incorporation of Novel Persons in American Law, Society, and Literature, 1870-1914

Eugene McCarthy

Supervisor: Marianne Constable

After New India: Diasporas, Anglophonisms, Returns

Ragini Srinivasan

Supervisor: Shannon Jackson, Colleen Lye

Combat in “A World Not for Us:” Revolutionary Writing in Aimé Césaire and Ghassan Kanafani

Amirah Silmi

Supervisor: Trinh Minh-ha

Preoccupations with Modernity: Geopolitics of Knowledge in Colombian Reproduction Laws,

Alisa Sanchez

Supervisor: Marianne Constable

2015

Mambí Totems and Reconcentrado Taboos: Violence and the Unjust Dead in Cuban Literary and Visual Cultures

Eric Morales-Franceschini

Supervisor: Judith Butler & Trinh Minh-Ha

This study examines the representational strategies that Cubans have employed in order to come to terms with violence in their revolutionary history and the extents to which such strategies have worked in the service of alibi as opposed to critique. Accordingly, the study looks most closely at the discursive and visual portrayals of the mambí, guerrilla soldiers of Cuba’s wars for independence (1868-98) and, not incidentally, icons of Cuban identity and revolutionary ethos. Within or relative to these very portrayals and the same wartime history, however, stands the specter of the reconcentrado, victims to Spain’s “camps of reconcentration” and by far the largest and most tragic casualties of the wars. Drawing on rhetorical and contrapuntal reads of war literature and historiography, political cartoons, monuments, and revolutionary era cinema, I tease out the myths and iconography by which the mambí has come to bespeak racial fraternity, virility, cunning, martyrdom and liberation, whereas, by stark contrast, the reconcentrado bespeaks vulnerability, imperialism, anonymity and atrocity.

In this respect, four representational strategies stand out: the reconcentrado as (i) a campesina or señorita damsel in distress under the threat of rape by Spaniards and in need of a machete-endowed savoir; (ii) an emaciated, sickly mass of anonymous children with vacant gazes and no voice, carnal evidence of an atrocity that, presumably, speaks for itself yet clearly cites Holocaust iconography; (iii) interned mambisa or patriot who stoically bears her and her children’s agony; or (iv) as sheer absence, where only the mambises, their heroic machete charges, and the cry “¡Viva Cuba Libre!” are visible and audible. Whichever the case, the actual history of antagonistic and coercive acts within or by the Liberation Army and any collateral responsibility for the unjust dead are disavowed; in lieu of critique, thus, the reconcentrado is rendered an alibi for revolutionary violence, centralized power, and nationalist interpellations in which sacrifice for the Patria constitutes the “sublime.”

Closer scrutiny, however, reveals that the reconcentrado could signify otherwise. Given her agony, the paternalism with which she was dealt, and her labors against an unjust death, deaths for which patriotic consolations ring hollow, I argue the reconcentrado, as ethical figure and as historical fact, speaks on behalf of non-violence, democratic voice, and the summons to care for life at its most precarious. Such ethical hails have proven all the timelier in a “post-socialist” Cuba where mambí mythology and revolutionary identity have had to wrestle not only with transnational finance capital and consumerist culture but also the specters of (UMAP) labor camp confinados and Special Period balseros.

The construction of the Colombian territory: Images of the Colombian Armed Conflict 2002- 2010

Claudia Salamanca

Supervisor: Samera Esmeir, David W. Bates

If Your World Was Built on Dispossession: Strategies of Conquest by Settlement in America

Teresa K-Sue Park

Supervisor: Marianne Constable

Return of the Indian: Bone Games, Transcription, and Other Gestures of Indigeneity

Mark Minch

Supervisor: Trinh Minh-ha

Infrastructures of Injury: Railway Accidents and the Remaking of Class and Gender in Mid-Nineteenth Century Britain

Amanda Armstrong-Price

Supervisor: Michael Wintroub, James Vernon

2014

The Biopolitics of Memory: Lifted Tongues and Cloned Dogs

Hyaesin Yoon

Supervisor: Trinh Minh-ha

Monsoon Marketplace: Inscriptions and Trajectories of Consumer Capitalism and Urban Modernity in Singapore and Manila

Fernando Gonzaga

Supervisor: Trinh Minh-ha

American Biography, the History of Books, and the Market for Nationalism, 1800-1855

John Garcia

Supervisor: Michael Mascuch

Creative Destruction: Memory, Public Finance, and the State in New York City

Keerthi Potluri

Supervisor: Samera Esmeir, Michael J. Watts

Kenosis and Immanence: Self-Emptying in Eckhart, Hegel and Bataille

Aleksey Dubilet

Supervisor: Judith Butler, Niklaus Largier

Anima Automata: On the Olympian Art of Song

Simon Porzak

Supervisor: Daniel Boyarin, Barbara G. Spackman

Drone Flight and Failure: the United States’ Secret Trials, Experiments and Operations in Unmanning, 1936-1973

Katherine Chandler

Supervisor: David W. Bates

2013

Playing Nature : The Virtual Ecology of Game Environments

Alenda Chang

Supervisor: David W. Bates

Airport Modern: The Space between International Departures and Arrivals in Modern Korean National Imaginings

Alice S. Kim

Dialectic, Desire & Discipline: The Formation of the Philosopher on the Scene of the Platonic Dialogue

Vincent Tafolla

Negative Theatrics: Writing the Postdramatic Stage

Julia Jarcho

2012

Up in the Sound: Form and Voice in Jazz and Post-War American Poetry

Benjamin Lempert

Supervisor: Kaja Silverman

Bearing Knowledge: Law, Reproduction and the Female Body in Modern Morocco, 1912-Present

Satyel Larson

The Therapeutic Turn in International Humanitarian Law: War Crimes Tribunals as Sites of "Healing"?

Diana Anders

The Bigger Picture: The Panoramic Image and the Global Imagination

Brooke Belisle

The Trouble with "Queerness": Drag and the Making of Two Cultures

Katie Horowitz

Lyric and the Rhetoric of the Serial Mode in Twentieth Century American Poetry: Figuring Voice in the Work of Spicer, Berrigan, and Ashbery

Colin Dingler

2011

Spectral Socialisms: Marxism-Leninism and the Future of Marxist Thought in Post-Socialist Bulgaria

Zhivka Valiavicharska

Supervisor: Wendy L. Brown

Times of the Event: On the Aesthetico-Political in West Germany and Austria circa 1968

Andrew Weiner

PreOccupied Territories: Polar Landscapes in the Cinema

Emily Carpenter

Supervisor: Linda Williams

Refiguring the Wordscape: Merleau-Ponty, Beckett and the Body

Amanda Dennis

Supervisor: Judith Butler

Vision in Ruins

Michelle Dizon

Supervisor: Trinh Minh-ha

From Red Lights to Red Flags: A History of Gender in Colonial and Contemporary Vietnam

Quang-Anh Richard Tran

"This Modern Day Slavery": Sex Trafficking and Moral Panic in the United Kingdom

Angela Hill

2010

Listening Speaks: Modernism and the Storytelling Voice

Julie Beth Napolin

Dislocations of the Brain: Subjectivity and Cerebral Topology from Descartes to Nineteenth Century Neuroscience

Nima Bassiri

Supervisor: David W. Bates

Integration and the American Musical: From Musical Theatre to Performance Studies

James Bradley Rogers

Supervisor: Shannon Jackson

Immanent Shakespearing: Politics, Performance, Pedagogy

Todd Barnes

The Limits of the Mind: Cognition and Narrative Form in the Modernist Novel

James Harker

Supervisor: David W. Bates

Life Expectancies: Late Victorian Literature and the Biopolitics of Empire

Jessica Davies

Tentative Futures: Ethics and Sexuality in the Nineteenth-Century Novel

Amy Jamgochian

The Matter of Beauty: Materialism and the Self in Victorian Aesthetic Theory

Benjamin Morgan

2009

Contested Jurisdictions: Legitimacy and Governance at the Special Court for Sierra Leone

Sara Kendall

Supervisor: Marianne Constable

Sans Retour: Subjectivity, Ethics and the Question of Survival in the work of Semprun, Levinas and Derrida

Colleen Pearl

Fate, Guilt and Messianic Interruptions: Ethics of Theological Critique in Hermann Cohen and Walter Benjamin

Yannik Thiem

Beyond Blood and Coercion: A Study of Violence in Machiavelli and Marx

Yves Winter

The General Theatre of Death: Modern Fatality and Modernist Form

Amy Huber

Supervisor: Judith Butler

Real Time over Real Space: Television, Telepresence and Contemporary Art

Kristina Paulsen

Supervisor: Kaja Silverman

2008

Beyond Supersessionism: Gillian Rose and the Rhetoric of Transcendence

Vincent Lloyd

Supervisor: Daniel Boyarin

The Ethical Bind in the Writings of Simone Weil

Yoon Sook Cha

Supervisor: Judith Butler

2007

Masumura Yasuzo and the Cinema of Social Consciousness

Mark Roberts

Supervisor: David J. Cohen

Thou Shalt Not Kill?:  Legal Normativity and the Problem with Capital Punishment

Benjamin Yost

Standing Before the Law:  Recognition, Power, and the Limits of Identity

Sarah Burgess

Supervisor: Judith Butler, Wendy Brown

Archiving Self:  Effacement, Erasure, Disappearance

Litia Perta

Supervisor: Trinh Minh-ha

Visionary Machines:  A Genealogy of the Digital Image

Elizabeth Patterson

The Question of Ethics for the Metonymically Restless, as posed by Giles Deleuze, Emmanuel Levinas, and Gertrude Stein

Erik Schneider

2006

The Rhetorical Afterlife of Photographic Evidence:  Roland Barthes, Avital Ronell, Roni Horn

John Muse

Supervisor: Judith Butler, Kaja Silverman

Dead Time:  Narrative Form and Historical Knowledge in the Era of the Cold War

Mark Pedretti

Supervisor: John Bishop. Anthony J. Cascardi

Ancient Bodies, Contemporary Selves:  Reading Gender in Late Antique Christian Asceticism

Kathryn Drabinski

Supervisor: Judith Butler

Reason, Aesthetics and Solidarity:  Hegel and Adorno on the Reparation of Modernity

Michael Feola

Supervisor: Judith Butler

Pancryptics: Technological Transformations of the Subjects of Privacy

Norman Dale Carrico

Trauma and Ideology in the Soviet Film of 1929-1945

Andrey Shcherbenok

Seeing it Again: Repetition and Exposition in the American Film Flashback

Amy Zilliax

2005

Narrating, Displaying & Spectating the Animal: Frank Norris, Jack London and the Urban Zoo

Mark Feldman

Between the Black Box and the White Cube: Warhol, Expanded Cinema, and the Emergence of the Moving Image in American Art, 1963-1965

Andrew Uroskie

2004

The Rhetoric of Character in Gilded Age American Literature

James Salazar

This Weakness is Needed: An Intervention in Social Contract Theory

Jill Stauffer

The Oriental Obscene: Violence and the Asian Male Body in American Moving Images in the Vietnam Era, 1968-1985

Sylvia Chong

Self-Assertion and Self-Effacement in Modern Political Theory

Julie Cooper

Emerson’s Platonic Dialogue: Negotiating the American Individual

Jennifer Gurley

A Style of Life: Spectral Subjectivity and the Limits of Sacred Life

Stuart Murray

The Concept of the Living

Aaron Nathan

2003

Assuming a Body:  Transgenderism and Rhetorics of Materiality

Gayle Salamon

Heidegger’s Tasks: The Many Ways to Being

Forrest Hartman

The Fantastic Subject: On the Role of Images of Matter and Space in Psychic Life, Literature and Psychoanalysis

Jody Lewen

Art After Words: Conceptualism, Structuralism, and the Dream of the Information World

Eve Meltzer

2002

Subject to Debate: Gender, Self and Allegory in the Middle English Poetry of Disputation

Masha Raskolnikov

Vagaries of the Republic: Classical Republicanism and Millennialism in Three Nineteenth-Century Utopian Communities

Ellen Rigsby

Thucydides and the Metaphysical Foundations of History

Darien Shanske

Film on Film: Self-reflexivity and Moving Image Technology

Catherine Zimmer

Fields of Recognition: Reading Asian Canadian Literature in Asian America

Meng Yu Marie Lo

Martyrdom in Korean American Literature: Resistance and Paradox in East Goes West, Quiet Odyssey, Comfort Woman and Dictee


Sandra Si Yun Oh

Tropes of Transport: The Work of Emotionality in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

Katrin Pahl

The Oriental Monk in American Popular Culture: Race, Religion, and Representation in the Age of Virtual Orientalism

Jane Iwamura

The Aesthetics of the Worst: Remembering and Forgetting in French, Yiddish, and Architectural Holocaust Representations

Brett Kaplan

Effaced Figure: Authorship and the American Cinema

Homay King

Strategies of Indirection in African American and Irish Contemporary Fiction, Zora Neale Hurston to Toni Morrison, and Mary Lavin to fil’s Ni’ Dhuibhne

Jacqueline Fulmer

Surviving Figures: Romantic Rhetoric and Post-Holocaust Writing

Sara Guyer

2001

Authentic Reproductions: The Making and Re-making of More Asian Americans in Donald Duk, Bone, and Native Speaker

Vivian Fumiko Chin

Foucault and his Authors

Jacob S. Fisher

Heart Murmurs: Narrating Reliable Work, Enacting a Technical World

Jennifer Miller

The Making of Zoot Suiters in Early 1940s Mexican Los Angeles

David Alfonso-Jose Rojas