Originally raised in the southern US state of Kentucky, I have studied and lived abroad in India, the Pacific Northwest, Great Britain, and The Netherlands. I’m currently an assistant professor at the Film and Literary Studies Department of Leiden University and a 2014 Veni laureate (Dutch postdoctoral research grant) hosted at the Leiden University Center for the Arts in Society.
I received my PhD in Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam in 2011 with a full fellowship from the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis. My Masters in Cultural Studies (with distinction) was granted by the University of Leeds in 2004.
I work as a cultural analyst with expertise in (trans)gender studies, sexuality, film and visual arts, critical theories of embodiment, and continental philosophy. My research is guided by the question of how visuality shapes knowledge about bodies. I also explore this question through programming, curating and collaborating with visual artists. I have a strong affinity with transnational activism as well as international scholarly networks that focus on LGBTIQ2S issues and (post-)porn.
I currently serve as a member of the advisory council (adviesraad) to the management team of the Leiden University Center for Arts in Society. I also serve as the Leiden University representative on the education council (onderwijsraad) of the Dutch Research School of Gender Studies (NOG), which is the national affiliation body for all Research MA students, PhDs and faculty in Gender, Ethnicity and Diversity Studies.
My dissertation (under revision for publication) is called Shimmering Images: On Transgender Embodiment and Cinematic Aesthetics. I account for why transgender bodies often appear as shimmering—coming into and out of intelligible focus—in cultural optics for perceiving gender. Through engagement with cinematic aesthetics, in which a shimmering visual quality is the norm rather than the exception, I develop a trans affirmative onto-epistemology starting from the state of shimmering movement, rather than from a fixed stasis. Together with Laura Horak and Cael Keegan I’m co-editing a special issue of Somatechnics Journal on “Cinematic Bodies” to further build the field of research on what it might mean to occupy a cinematic body (forthcoming 2018).
My current research project, “Vital Art: Transgender Portraiture as Visual Activism”, examines the worlds created in contemporary visual art practices that harbor at-risk trans subjectivity and critique the discrimination of gender non-conforming bodies. With this project I incorporate qualitative research methods, such as interviewing and ethnography, into my practice of formal visual interpretative methods. (Please see the additional page Vital Art for more on this project.)
Throughout my research projects I’ve been interested in how affecting/affected bodies interact, whether they be human animals, non-human, art objects, ideas or things. These various interests are interwoven in a co-edited (with Marianna Szczygielska and Anthony Wagner) special issue of Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities tentatively called “Tranimacies: Intimate Links between Animal and Trans* Studies,” forthcoming in 2017. I also am a founding editorial board member for the new open access journal Capacious: The Graduate Student Journal for Affect Study, launched in 2016.
I am committed in my work to map out the interconnections of social realities with cultural productions, that is, how art-making can be socially embedded and culturally responsive. This synergy is also my lived reality as I have long collaborated on film festivals and art exhibitions that aim to improve the visibility of gender diversity (2003-present). Since 2013, I serve as the first editor of arts and culture for TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly.
I am an active member of a number of scholarly, activist and cultural organizations.
Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis (NICA)
Netherlands Research School for Gender Studies (NOG)
Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender and Sexuality (ARC-GS)
Leiden University Center for the Arts in Society (LUCAS)
SCHOLARLY NETWORKS & ASSOCIATIONS
Association for Cultural Studies (ACS)
Cultural Studies Association (CSA)
Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS)
International Research Association of Institutions of Advanced Gender Studies (RINGS)
National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA)
European Society for Literature Science and the Arts (SLSA-eu)
European Network for Cinema and Media Studies (NECS)
European Association for Gender Research, Education and Documentation (ATGENDER)
Somatechnics Research Centre, Institute for LGBT Studies, University of Arizona, US
Centre for Fine Art Research (CFAR), Birmingham Institute for Art & Design, UK
Institut für Queer Theory (Institute for Queer Theory), Berlin, DE
Vlaams-Nederlands Netwerk LGBT Onderzoek (Flemish-Dutch Network for LGBT research)
European Summer School for Cultural Studies (ESSCS)
The Netherlands Transgender Film Festival (NTGF)
TranScreen Amsterdam Transgender Film Festival
The European Queer Film and Arts Festival Alliance
Interviews given to the Dutch Press (2015-2016)
Review of my talk on Chris Rijksen’s photographic exhibition opening at IHLIA (January 21, 2013)
Trans-ErotiXXX workshop, “Get Bent! A Festival of Queer Diversity” (Manchester, 2007)
Introducing my film, FEETISH, “MIX NYC Queer Experimental Film Festival” (New York City, 2006).