My writing and my research focus on the co-constitutive nature of capitalism, racialization, and western rationality more broadly, specifically by focusing on the figure of the autonomous, self-regulating subject. As a literary and cultural studies scholar, I am interested in the role that culture plays (and has played) in the formation of capitalist subjects, as well as its potential to cultivate dissident and unruly subjects. My current projects focus on “popular occulture” as a site at which subject (de)formation is staged and, to a certain extent, might be said to occur. I am particularly interested in how the horror genre has historically deployed and manipulated identity categories like race, gender, and nationality, and the role this has played in the (re)production of racialized, gendered, and national citizen-subjects. However, my research also takes up popular culture as a terrain of struggle: a space where subjectivities are formed and deformed, where dominant subject formations are both reproduced and undermined. A fundamental question that animates my creative work, my research, and my teaching is the question of futurity: What might it take for us to imagine and take steps towards a better future? How might culture help us to imagine and produce a just and equitable future? Ultimately, how can we create, as a former professor once put it, pathways to the possible?
My current project, an outgrowth of my doctoral dissertation, looks to the genre of cosmic horror—or "weird fiction"—in order to complicate the “realistic” ways in which both the human and the truth have been deployed as cornerstones of political emancipation, highlighting the role played by racial capitalism in structuring both concepts. Giving special attention to the novels and stories of Ruthanna Emrys, Thomas Ligotti, and Victor LaValle, which I read as in many ways theorizing “the weird” specifically as it relates to questions of racism and otherness. Ultimately, I suggest that contemporary weird fiction often reflects (and perpetuates) a broad impulse to think beyond the realistic and even a recognition that “reality” is itself ideologically conditioned and thus contingent. Such narratives seek out the moments when thought itself falters—when, confronted with its limit, “realistic” thinking becomes impossible—and through such fissures offer the possibility of imagining and producing a different world, however terrifying it might be to do so.
Reanimating Lovecraft: Racism and Ontological Terror in Victor LaValle's The Ballad of Black Tom
Aeternum: The Journal of Contemporary Gothic Studies · June 2021
Into the Seething Vortex: Occult Horror and the Subversion of the Realistic
Doctoral Dissertation · June 2020