Theresa Geller

theresa.geller [at]
BBRG Scholar-in-Residence
Appointment Dates:
(Aug 16, 2017 – May 11, 2018)
Research Project:
The Art of Entrustment
The Art of Entrustment centers on 21st century feminist and queer media, art, and performance to identify contemporary models of political and affective resistance—needed now more than ever. Entrustment, a method originally proposed by Italian feminists to model and reproduce a female counter-Symbolic, provides a conceptual framework for mapping the cultural work of aesthetic production. The origins of this research began as a paper I presented on Italian feminism, autonomia, and queer entrustment in Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love (Io sono l'amore, 2009). The first chapter works through the intersecting histories of feminist thought and queer theory to reconceptualize entrustment as a mode (and model) of praxis. The latter chapters sketch out the forms entrustment takes in a range of film and media, including Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (Takeshi Miike, 2006), The Business of Fancydancing (Sherman Alexie, 2002), and Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby” (2014), among others. The final chapter was previously published as “Trans/Affect, Monstrous Masculinities, and the Sublime Art of Lady Gaga.” In it, I argue that Gaga’s transgender embodiment of Jo Calderone evokes the sublime (trans-)affect constitutive of a feminist and queer mode of entrustment. Together, these chapters show how contemporary counter-cinema, art, and performance articulate queer culture’s encounters with social precarity, including transphobia, racism, misogyny, and settler colonialism.
Theresa L. Geller is a scholar of media studies, film philosophy, and feminist and queer theory. Before joining the Beatrice Bain Research Group, she taught at Grinnell College for nine years, holding the position of Associate Professor of Film Theory and History until joining the BBRG. She has also taught at Rutgers University and the University of Illinois. She is the author of The X-Files (Wayne State University Press, 2016) and has recent publications in American Quarterly and The Velvet Light Trap. Her scholarship on feminist film studies, continental philosophy, and queer theory has appeared in Camera Obscura, Rhizomes, Senses of Cinema, Biography, Spectator, and Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies, and has chapters in Gender after Lyotard, East Asian Cinemas, and Lady Gaga and Popular Music: Performing Gender, Fashion, and Culture. Professor Geller was a recent Mellon Fellow at the Whitney Humanities Center, Yale University (2015-16). She is working on several book projects this year, including The Art of Entrustment, Thinking Through the Interval, and Politicizing the Popular. Her co-edited volume (with Julia Leyda), Feminism's Indelible Mark: Reframing the Work of Todd Haynes, is currently under review with Duke University Press.