Research

 

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My current book project, Crafting Modernity: Remaking Feminist Time from Literary Modernism to the Multimedia Present offers a sustained focus on how writers recover, reposition, and repurpose craft materials and processes from photography and needlework to painting, collage, and digital making. The result of these various threads is an alternative, “willful,” to use Sara Ahmed’s term, reorientation of patriarchal temporalities and ideas about what counts as creative work (3). Craft as a lens offers the ability to hold several things in sight at once, primarily encounters between material culture, multimedia, art history, and visual culture—with a focus on how these encounters drive narratives of survival and resistance in texts by Virginia Woolf, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Lorna Goodison, Ali Smith, Zadie Smith, and others. 

Crafting Modernity therefore attends to the processes of making (or unmaking) things as my primary sites of analysis rather than giving comparative primacy to the finished work of art. This approach begins to dismantle the patriarchal hierarchies of art, suggesting that the materials, process, and collaborations that inform craft belong in conversations across the visual and verbal—especially in women’s work where craft has so consistently supported political resistance and narratives of critique and remaking. Many of the readings in Crafting Modernity embrace messiness, fragments, and look to the margins for lost or forgotten archives. It is part of a conversation with myself—and makers and writers and artist-writers—about the creative value of transmedia feminism to the work of inclusivity, canon expansion, political resistance, and—as Imani Perry suggests—the complex ranges of “aesthetic, practical, and philosophical practice” in crafting a feminist modernity. Craft studies and queer literary theory depend on one another to make sense of this complexity, departing from narratives of wholeness and linearity in favor of failure, reparation, willfulness, and the agency embedded in sloppy modes of making.

In my research, I practice all of the art forms I study, getting closer to the materials and processes that push my readings beyond the general and into the realm of the specific. This experiential approach to literary research extends to the scholarly detective work of locating lost or marginalized archives. Reflecting this work, each scholarly chapter of the book is prefaced by a Techne interchapter, spaces of creative and archival encounters, which reveal the seams between the chapters and range from the personal to the very theoretical. Techne is a term that conveys essential linkages between ideas of art, craft, literature, and technology, which—especially in Crafting Modernity—get woven together.

I have started working on a second book about chosen kin and queer art culture in contemporary global literature, and I have further research interests in human rights, eco-intersectionality, creative non-fiction, material culture, and the politics of aesthetics. More generally, I am interested in practice-based, experiential research methods in the humanities.