writer • professor


For collaborations, invitations, and inquiries:

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Monica Huerta is an assistant professor of English and American Studies at Princeton University. Her scholarship is rooted in long-nineteenth-century visual, literary, and legal archives. She translates insights from studies of visual culture, photography, race and ethnicity, and colonial racial capitalism to expose the aesthetic life of power. By the aesthetic life of power, she signals and examines how power – in addition to and embedded in its discursive, ideological, structural-institutional, and violent iterations – can be holistically examined in an aesthetic register. Using humanistic inquiry (e.g. visual analysis and archival work), her work broadens our understanding of how racial capitalism reproduces itself. Her recent book, The Unintended: Photography, Property, and the Aesthetics of Racial Capitalism (New York University Press, 2023) follows the little-explored trajectory of photography through late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century law. It uses questions generated by studies of racial capitalism and late-nineteenth century performance cultures to attune to an aesthetics of whiteness that instantiates intellectual property rights in images. The Unintended is part of the America and the Long 19th Century series, and has been reviewed in the Lambda Literary Review and Ethnic and Racial Studies.

Monica also writes criticism in an experimental mode toward what Saidiya Hartman theorizes as “undoings of the plot.” Magical Habits (Duke University Press, 2021) and some of her shorter essays are part of this ongoing work. Magical Habits (Duke University Press, 2021) is a critical experiment in storytelling, knowledge-making, and archives as seen from a childhood shaped by Chicago’s Mexican restaurants. It was deemed a “striking debut” by the New York Times Book Review, won a Duke University Press Scholars of Color First Book Award, and is part of the Writing Matters! series. Magical Habits has been widely reviewed, including in ASAP/Journal, Los Angeles Review of Books, American Literary HistoryLibrary Journal, MELUS, Foreword, and Lateral Journal. Monica is member of the Writing Matters! editorial collective. 

Monica is now at work on two long-term research projects. The first, When-time: Notes on Photographic Temporality, explores how contemporary Latinx artists’ political imaginations revise photography’s temporal arrangements. In the second, Imagination’s Property: A History in Figures, she uses a critic’s tools to subject jurist’s figures for imagination to a longer exposure time than is typical in studies of law and political economy.

Her writing has appeared or will appear in American Literature, ArtForum, Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, J19: The Journal for Nineteenth-Century Americanists, Los Angeles Review of Books, Critical Analysis of Law: An International and Interdisciplinary Law Review, and Contemporaries.

Before her current appointment, she was a Link-Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow at the Princeton Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Duke University in the Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. Her work has been generously supported by the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Mays Fellowship, the New York Public Library, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, the Social Science Research Council, among others. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Berkeley. She also holds an M.A. in History from Princeton University and a B.A. in History & Literature from Harvard University.