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 School of Letters, Arts, and Media at the University of Sydney, jointly affiliated with the Departments of English and Art History. 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. She will be working on three new book projects: Photographic Women, Incomplete: The Feminist Possibilities of the Unfinished Film, and Unwritten.
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 will account for the complexities of women’s (self-)representations, providing a visual backstory to the age of selfies and memes.
Unfinished Literature and Film
Two new book projects examine cinematic and literary texts that were abandoned, interrupted, or lost. Whatever the reason these creative works were left unfinished — personal, financial, institutional, artistic — they incarnate the raw ends and false starts of modern and contemporary aesthetics and culture. They therefore focus much-needed attention on experiences and ideas that have been relegated to the borderlands of film and literary studies.
First, Alix is working with the film scholar Stefan Solomon on an edited collection of essays titled Incomplete: The Feminist Possibilities of the Unfinished Film. Incomplete is under contract with the University of California Press, and it will be published as part of the Feminist Media Histories series in early 2023. The book contributes to an emergent strain of cinema studies that combines close readings of films with a renewed emphasis on questions of film culture, production, and circulation. It draws on a wide and interdisciplinary range of perspectives in establishing interpretative models for analyzing abandoned, interrupted, and lost films from across the history of the medium and in various national and institutional contexts.
Second, Alix is beginning work on a sole-authored monograph tentatively titled Unwritten. This study approaches the unfinished writing and film work of Zora Neale Hurston, Lorraine Hansberry, Tillie Olsen, and Kathleen Collins as ideal textual sites for revealing how creative labor reflects and cements wider social norms and inequities. This alternative history of women’s writing (and/as non-writing) blends close textual analysis with the study of the lived practices of artistic work, the institutional realities of literary production, the processes of canonization, and the phenomenon of literary celebrity in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.