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, examines scenes of senseless violence in post-1945 American literature and art by Andy Warhol, James Baldwin, Flannery O’Connor, Yoko Ono, Kathy Acker, Kathleen Hanna, Toni Morrison, and Kara Walker. I define four 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 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 presented this research at the Newberry Library in February 2018. Additional research interests include modernism and postmodernism, contemporary fiction, affect theory, the phenomenology of reading, aesthetics, critical race theory, gender and sexuality studies, visual culture, riot grrrl zines, American avant-garde formations, and theories of taste. My research has been generously supported by the University of Virginia, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Emory University, and Duke University Libraries.