Theresa Geller

theresa.geller [at]
Associate Professor of Film Theory and History
Grinnell College, Iowa
Appointment Dates:
(Jan 10, 2017 – May 12, 2017)
Research Project:
Modes of Entrustment
Modes of Entrustment examines 21st century feminist and queer media to map their affective resistances to neoliberalism’s deterritorialization of desire. Rather than apply queer theory to texts, I start with film and media to map its modes of entrustment—a method originally proposed by Italian feminists to model and reproduce a female counter-Symbolic. 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 Sugar Sphinx (2014), among others. Together, these chapters show how contemporary film and media articulate queer culture’s encounters with social precarity, including transphobia, racism, misogyny, and settler colonialism. A version of what is to be the concluding chapter for this book was published previously 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 counter-Symbolic.
A scholar of film and media studies as well as feminist and queer theory, Theresa L. Geller is Associate Professor of Film Theory and History in the Department of English at Grinnell College. She recently completed the monograph, The X-Files (Wayne State University Press, 2016). She is the author of several articles on feminist film studies, continental philosophy, and queer theory, with publications in Camera Obscura, Rhizomes, Senses of Cinema, Velvet Light Trap, Biography, 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. With a dissertation on film genre and queer epistemology, Geller earned her PhD in Literatures in English from Rutgers University. She was a student of women’s studies and the history of consciousness as an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz. She is currently completing the co-edited volume (with Julia Leyda), An Indelible Mark: Women and the Work of Todd Haynes.