Stuck: Time, Difference, and Power in American Visual Culture
University of Kansas
Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies
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This dissertation analyzes four case studies in American visual culture to propose a theory of stuckness, a way of doing time in visual culture. Using a theoretical grounding in queer theory, performance studies, and ecocritical theory, I engage with stuckness utilizing a methodological approach I call sitting with stuckness, paying close attention to those moments where unimaginable losses (of life, of power, of position) become visible in culture, revealing alternative ways of doing time. I start by examining Charles Darwin’s entrance into the American public consciousness alongside the end of the Civil War and the compressive violence of depictions of black Americans as less-than-human “missing links.” Then, I look to the political actions and art of HIV/AIDS activist group ACT UP and Daniel Goldstein to see the reparative production of their engagements with waste as a productive site of politics and aesthetics. In the third chapter I and a co-author engage the website of FBI anti-trafficking effort Operation Cross Country X, noting its usage of spectacular instants to encourage state-serving understandings of trafficking and its possible solutions. In the conclusion, I examine depictions of behavioral deviance and paralyzing emotions in My Strange Addiction and the complex narrative and temporal juxtapositions taking place within the reality television format between its subject and the production team, ending with future directions for a method of sitting with stuckness.
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