Research & Teaching
I am currently an independent Scholar, teaching at the Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam (Netherlands). My research focus is on critical theories of the body and on critical epistemiologies in the arts.
I was originally trained in philosophy and women's studies at the University of Vienna (Austria). As an exchange student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA), I extended my fields of interest to Medical Anthropology, Philosophy of Literature, and Queer Studies. In my PhD project, which was conducted at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, I brought my research interests together in connection to my main interest: theories of embodiment.
My main fields of research and teaching are: Disability Studies, Phenomenology, Queer Theory, Posthuman Theory, Aesthetics, Theories of Art and Knowledge Production.
In my written work I aim to disentangle bodies from normatively descriptive images and complicate simplified visions of our bodies. My research attempts to make bodily difference understandable not only as negative, but as formative for all bodie
Introduction to Women, gender, and Sexuality
(Webster University Vienna, Global Citizenship Program)
This interdisciplinary course introduces students to concepts and issues from feminist scholarship in a variety of disciplines, providing an introduction to critical thinking about the sex/gender system and gendered structural constraints faced by men and women. The course will focus on the intersections of gender and race, ethnicity, social class, sexuality, and ability status within the United States and around the world.
We will ask, what gender is and what we mean by sex and sexuality. We will explore how these concepts shape our everyday lives and cultural practices. The field of feminist and gender studies opens up questions about the structural inequalities in different cultures and challenges these by recording and instigating social change.
We will explore how we came to think of gender difference and how feminism in its different historical and cultural appearances has changed our ways of relating to ourselves and others. We will ask why gender and sexuality matter, both to our lives and to our studies. Students will learn how to critically reflect about seemingly stable categories of identity, such as gender, sexual orientation, race, class, ability, and age. With the help of contemporary theories in the humanities (ranging from feminist theory to queer and trans* studies to critical race and disability theories), we will explore some key concepts in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies: situated knowledge, intersectionality, interdisciplinarity, normalization, marginalization, disidentification, embodiment.
To help us ground and focus our discussions of these concepts, we will use different cultural objects: literary works, essays, films, or art works, in which the body will take centre stage. We will reflect about how the body has been absent or dismissed in many of the dominant Western intellectual traditions, despite its ubiquity in popular culture, art, and contemporary politics. Many feminist and gender theorists have contested the abstraction from the body in theory and have insisted on the centrality of the material body in processes of knowledge production and cultural meaning. We will analyse the ways in which critical theory can influence the body politic of everyday speech, popular representation, and self-image.
Embodied Knowledges and Alternative Research PRactices in the Arts
(Sandberg Instituut, Critical Studies Department)
In parallel to the current international debate about research at art schools, alternative research methodologies and accounts of knowledge have been explored within and outside the academy. These alternative methodologies challenge the still dominant forms of knowledge production in universities and art schools alike, which tend to rely on a scientific paradigm. This project investigates a focal point of these alternative forms of knowledge production that is of special importance to the art school: practices of embodied knowing and of thinking through action. How to understand knowledge as not only mental, but as also shaped and produced by corporeal practices, gestures, and perceptions? How does our bodily condition structure our everyday experience? And how does the body force us to reflect about our temporal, spatial, material, social and environmental embeddedness in the world?
Concepts for Cultural Analysis
Objectives: Introduction of a series of key terms relevant for today’s Humanities research; reflection on the genealogies, systematicity, possibilities and limitations of using theoretical concepts for Humanities research; setting up and carrying out an independent research project centered on a specific concept.
Contents: In today’s Humanities research, concepts are no longer easily reduced to specific disciplines, methodological systems, or theoretical allegiances. On the contrary, concepts seem simply “around,” travelling between contexts, methods, disciplines, and fields. Concepts have thus become sites of intense dialogue, scholarly production, and innovation—as well as of endless misunderstanding, polemics, hypes, and academic “tunnel vision.” This class aims to give students a handle on how to deal with theoretical concepts productively and critically for their own research projects. Today, what can we do with Concepts? What can we not? Where do they help, and where do they hinder?
The concepts at stake in this class are all introduced and elaborated upon from a variety of perspectives and uses; for, frequently, people use the very same concept in very different, if not mutually exclusive, ways. In that way, the question as to what the “right” way and the “wrong” way in which define a concept is disabled from the start. Subsequently, we try to figure out in what way or ways a certain concept, in its different definitions and uses, may or may not work for our research, as well as to reflect critically on that process. What can we formulate and perceive courtesy of a specific concept? What does a concept make clear? What does it make fuzzy or take for granted?
Intercultural Dialogues: Embodied Discourses
Intercultural dialogue is a loaded expression: it implies that there is such a thing as a dialogue that functions like a language and that between "cultures," people talk to each other as if they had different languages. The idea is commonplace and leads to the notion that we can "translate" between cultures. Additionally, in order for a dialogue to take place, a “shared space” is projected wherein the communication is supposed to happen. Not only have such spaces become less “material” or less physical with the advent of facebook, skype and other web media, but the very concept of “being within” specific spaces – inhabiting physical worlds – that are controlled by border politics, ethical, medical, or religious norms, and corporeal limitations is problematic.
If we start from the idea that we relate to "our own culture" in a more immediate way than to other cultures, one important, yet relentlessly ambiguous aspect of all cultures becomes an important agent in dialogue: the body. This course addresses the particular problems of embodied discourses within and between cultures. The representation of "inter" vs. "intra" cultural dialogue is what is examined here. Problems of communication and translation between intersecting experiences of gendered, racial, disabled, and class-specific embodiment within a presumably unitary culture of human bodies will be discussed. Besides questioning the assumption of a smoother "inner" communication as well as the very idea of “intercultural dialogue”, we will consider the concept of a potentially productive failure of translation with the help of visual, literary, and theoretical objects.
Gender, Bodies and the Posthuman
Posthuman bodies, according to Judith Halberstam and Ira Livingston, are “the causes and effects of postmodern relations of power and pleasure, virtuality and reality, sex and its consequences.” The posthuman body is a technology, a screen, a projected image, a contaminated body, a deadly body, a techno-body, a queer body, a feminist body. This course explores the posthuman in the context of corporeality, as along with contemporary notions of gender and sexuality. These themes will also be connected with issues of subjectivity, otherness, animality, sexuality, and technology. Posthuman theories will be explored in light of critical approaches to humanism, transhumanism, and further recent trends in the humanities. In so doing, we will have occasion to examine the fate of bodies within critical theory, literature, art, and film, charting a tradition of thinking about what it means to be human, posthuman, or inhuman at this historical moment, and in the not-so-distant past.
Tutorial: Critical Embodiment
Politics of the Contemporary: Literary Ecologies
The political is always situated in a specific time and place, formed and transformed by social, cultural, as well as by environmental influences. In this course we will focus on issues of materiality, spatiality, technology, and corporeality to explore the relationship between text and politics in light of contemporary ecocritical developments. The “ecological turn” is a conspicuous turn in recent literary and cultural studies. It has opened up new fields of interdisciplinary inquiry and is at the core of current trends in the humanities. In this course we will look more closely at the relationship between ecology and politics, with particular attention to the ways in which literary studies, literature, and other cultural artifacts can contribute to a future critical debate about conceptions of nature, culture, animals, humans and their relations. We will study different literary and filmic objects in light of contemporary theories of ecocriticism, feminist and postcolonial ecologies, animal-human studies, eco-cultural studies, and posthuman theories.
Narrative and Globalization
The concept of globalization, described by Anthony Giddens in 1990 as “the stretching of social connections between the local and the distant so as to create a highly intensified worldwide scale,” triggered a sense of a true “paradigm shift.” Questions remain, however, as to the nature of this concept. At what point in time can we identify the globalization process? What is this “highly intensified worldwide scale?” Where exactly does it take place? This course aims to address globalization by analyzing the different ways in which globalization and related phenomena have been represented. If globalization can be defined as reality, it can also be seen as a set of cultural, political, economic, artistic, and discursive representations.
This course will, therefore, not take globalization as a given, but rather as a discursive construct that is equally political, economic and ideological. The course title, as well as the word “narrative” itself, imply an emergent phenomenon that is undergoing a constant process of change; we will address a number of ways of analyzing this process of emergence by looking at theoretical, filmic, literary, journalistic, and political representations of it. In this context, narrative will be understood as fictional accounts, discursive structures, and representational strategies in the cultural imaginary. We will focus on how globalization is not only described, but also actively produced in the circulation and transformation of narratives in the globalized present.
This perspective will enable us to study what Gayatri Spivak would call “the mechanics” of concepts of globalization, while focusing on new forms of collaboration, solidarity and conflict. Possible keywords and terms include: cosmopolitanism, Europeanization, global tourism, migration, global bodies, ecologies, transculturation, community, precarity and hospitality.
Sleutelbegrippen Literatuurwetenschap/Key Concepts
Wetenschapsfilosofie/Philosophy of Science
This seminar roughly follows the structure of the “hoorcollege Wetenschapsfilosofie” and the reader, which will be read for the lecture class: M. Leezenberg en G. de Vries, Wetenschapsfilosofie voor geesteswetenschappen, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2012. The content of the book as well as the hoorcollege will be extended and complemented by articles with a particular focus on literary theory. We will concentrate specifically on the history of comparative literature/literary studies, and read primary texts by influential philosophers and theorists in the field.
As this seminar is accompanying the hoorcollege, the main aim is to have fruitful and engaging discussions in class. The two hours per week will largely depend on your engagement with the readings and your verbal contributions. It is thus not only essential that you regularly attend class and read the texts, but the goal is to re-think, question, untangle, and re-connect the issues at stake in doing science, which starts by re-contextualizing and debating existing theories.
Cultural Analysis: Case Studies
The introductory course on Cultural Analysis offers a general introduction in the theory and practice of cultural analysis. In this course, you’ll continue your encounter with cultural analysis by embarking on a series of case studies, which are assembled around a series of concrete objects of culture, of different media and genres. Case studies will consist of a number of different theoretical, historical, and political approaches of one and the same object. How to navigate those different approaches and their resulting interpretations and analyses? How to add your own perspective? What selections and combinations are relevant and thought-provoking?