MONICA HUERTA

writer • professor • creatrix

BIO   WRITING   TEACHING   CREATING   EVENTS   CV




For collaborations, invitations, and inquiries: 
mhuerta@princeton.edu

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Monica Huerta is an assistant professor of English and American Studies at Princeton University. Her multi-disciplinary work exposes the aesthetic life of power through visual culture, photography, and law. For example, she uses humanistic inquiry (e.g. visual analysis and archival work) to broaden our understanding of how racial capitalism reproduces itself. In her writing as in her teaching, history is an open question about how we intervene in its constant recreation or in its interruption—as critics, as subjects, and as members of a polity. 

Her current research project, Face Poetics, asks: why do we think we are reading when we look at a face? Does the idea that faces/bodies are legible affect what it means for texts to be legible, affect ideas of what literariness is, and how expression and communication are conceived over time? In Face Poetics, these questions lead to interrogations of aesthetic categories (form, medium, and affect) using archival work about the long history of studying faces—as in physiognomy, neurology, and social psychology. Face Poetics will bring this theoretical and historical work to bear on the ethics of contemporary facial recognition technologies.

Her book, Magical Habits (2021), won a Duke University Press Scholars of Color First Book Award and is part of the new Writing Matters! series at Duke University Press. The twelve personal-critical essays in Magical Habits meditate on the relationships among self, place, property logics, and storytelling. You can order the book here. Professor Huerta recently joined the editorial collective of the Writing Matters! series, with Saidiya Hartman, Erica Rand, and Kathleen Stewart. 

Forthcoming in 2022, her second book, The Unintended: Photography, Property, and the Aesthetics of Racial Capitalism follows the little-explored trajectory of photography through late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century law. It argues that whiteness is an aesthetics of power that speculates its control through adjudicating intention and its absence. The Unintended will be published by New York University Press in the America and the Long 19th Century series.

Alongside her research, she has built networks and sustained communities on campus, for example, through Women* of Color Student-Faculty Corners. With Professor Autumn Womack — a scholar of nineteenth-century African American literature and culture, and an assistant professor of African-American Studies and English at Princeton — they co-founded and now co-direct “Organizing Stories: Toward a Scholarly-Activist Praxis.” Organizing Stories connects students with veteran organizers who use storytelling in their organizing work.

Before her current appointment at Princeton, 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.

Her essays have appeared inJ19: The Journal for Nineteenth-Century Americanists, Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, Critical Analysis of Law: An International and Interdisciplinary Law Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and American Literature.