Alix is continuing her research into gender and photography, while also beginning a major new project examining unfinished literary and cinematic texts by women in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
For the academic year 2020–2021, Alix will be on sabbatical funded by the competitive Cardiff University Research Leave Scheme. During this year, she will be a Visiting Fellow at the University of Sydney’s School of Literature, Arts, and Media, jointly affiliated with the Departments of English and Art History, and at the Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University. She will also spend a month conducting archival research at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library, supported by a Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society. Alix will be working on two new books: Photographic Women, an expansion of her digital project Object Women; and Incomplete: The Feminist Possibilities of the Unfinished Film.
In photographs of women, who is the subject and who is the object? What forms of power are there not only in seeing but also in being seen? What forms of agency have women exhibited in relation to photographic representation and practice? How do women in photography look back at those who look at them, revealing the conditions of their visual arrest? And how do photographic women also return our gaze, making us reflect on our own spectatorship as an ethical and political act? Photographic Women is the first attempt to answer these questions in relation to the full sweep of photography’s history, from the beginnings of the medium to the present. This richly illustrated book, slated for publication in late 2023 or early 2024, will account for the complexities of women’s (self-)representations, providing a visual backstory to the age of selfies and memes.
Incomplete: The Feminist Possibilities of the Unfinished Film
Incomplete is a collection of essays edited by Alix Beeston and Stefan Solomon (Macquarie University, Australia). It is under contract with the University of California Press, where it will appear as part of the Feminist Media Histories series in January 2023. It establishes the value of examining unfinished film projects by women—whether abandoned, interrupted, or lost—for understanding the conditions and practices of women’s filmmaking and issues of gender in global film production. Bringing together scholars and filmmakers in developing interdisciplinary methodologies fit for the analysis of contingent and unwieldy archives and texts, Incomplete reimagines textual unfinishedness as both destructive and generative: a sign of both the structural inequities that stymie women’s creative labor and the strategic possibilities of incompletion—for both filmmakers and feminist film scholars.
Incomplete represents the first phase in a longer-term project exploring unfinished works by women filmmakers, photographers, and writers in the US across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Comprising a sole-authored monograph study and an associated digital project, among other publications, this project will theorize the unfinished text as an ideal site for revealing how creative labor reflects and cements wider social norms and inequities. Drawing on in-depth archival research into unfinished texts and projects by Zora Neale Hurston, Tillie Olsen, Kathleen Collins, Vivian Maier, and others, this alternative history of women’s creative labor (and/as stalled, failed, or refused labor) will combine close textual analysis with consideration of the lived practices of artistic work, the institutional realities of literary production, the processes of canonization, and the phenomenon of literary celebrity.