Monograph Project

My current research and monograph project, “The Post-Medium Era of American Class Performativity,” examines the representation of class identity and its performative iterations to characterize and problematize the cultural circulations of social and economic class in American cultural texts of the 20th and 21st centuries. Inspired by Michael Denning’s study of the ghetto pastoral and Walter Benn Michaels’s examination of neoliberal aesthetics, my project works to identify the narrative pressures on contemporary class rhetoric as a performative entity that moves between mediums to modulate visibility. I draw on the fields of media studies, political science, and sociology to theorize how cultural narratives are imbued with entrepreneurial potential, but are reified by hegemonic subject-positions that place cultural value on the stratification of American identity in chapters that cover diverse topics road culture, fantasies of industrialization, and protest media. A tentative chapter outline is as follows:

Introduction: Positioning Class Post-Medium Performativity

  • This section aims to provide a theorization of American class performativity across mediums by examining James Agee & Walker Evans’ journalistic approach to class (re)presentation. This mixed-media entry point proves the mobility of American class performativity and serves as a baseline example on which other chapters will draw, especially in relation to neoliberal aesthetics and economic criticism as it develops in the 20th century.

Part 1: The Fantasy of the Factory

  • This section explores how limited mobility within American socio-cultural institutions relay creativity and art as a corollary for class performativity. Subsections include:
    • The Capital Investments of American Identity in Rebecca Harding Davis’ Iron Mills
    • Poverty and the Popular: Charles Bukowski, the Patron Saint of Skid Row
    • Andy Warhol’s Pop Performativity: Manufacturing Class

Part 2: Mobilizing Performativity On the Road

  • This section explores travel narratives in American culture to theorize how conceptions of the road engage and use class performativity as a strategy for accessing hegemonic individualization. Subsections include:
    • ’A Jack-of-All-Trades’: Jack Kerouac’s Fashionable Practice of Working-Class Drag
    • Queer Class Aesthetics: The Graphic Visualization of Camp in Erika Lopez’s Flaming Iguanas
    • The Cross-Country/Cross-Class Drives of Don Draper/Dick Whitman: Examining Mad Men’s Hobo Narrative

Part 3: Media (Re)presentations and Performativity

  • This section explores media (re)presentation of class performativity to identify tactics and strategies for earning visibility. Subsections include:
    • Circulating Solidarity and Denim in Media Representations of Civil Rights Demonstrations
    • ‘Closet Capitalists at Heart’: Queer-Class Economy of John Waters.
    • Marketing Millennial Women: Embodied Class Performativity on American Television

Conclusion: Manufacturing Post-medium Performativity

This section offers a conclusion by examining the dislocation of clear aesthetic criteria across disciplines and mediums as endemic of the digital nexus of the 21st century. This move calls on the participation of audience and performer in a new era, suggestive of a sophisticated re-circulation of identitarian conversations that call for a reinterpretation