writer • professor



Drag is the Medium [Outro]

Feel Your Fantasy: The Drag Race cluster of Contemporaries: a post45 digital space, co-edited by Monica Huerta and Tyler Tennant (December 2022)

In this lightly edited interview, Ian Morrison — who performs as Brittany Lynn, and is the Don of Philly's Drag Mafia — says his priority is for folks at his shows to have a good time. His steady, open demeanor (and glowing skin! tell me your secrets!) makes his unmistakably South Philly cadence that much more charming. He describes Brittany as "a mom from South Philly," peppering performances and social media posts with "Hey, hun," and our conversation with "do you know what I mean(s)?" that sound a little more like "jknowwhaddImean?"


An Essay Written in Sand

ArtForum (December 2021)

When I started seeing people who weren’t my cat this past spring and taking short and medium trips, my body didn’t know how to tell a story about the many months that had passed. I could account for specific happenings: I worked so much and then more; I took naps in the middle of the day because Zoom hurt; I played virtual trivia with friends strewn across the country and watched many seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race. What I didn’t know was how to feel in touch with the year-plus between us, in the fleshy, nervy, felt ways of forty years of habit. Those habits are where materiality and immateriality, narrative, history, psychology, and physiology have usually danced a tango. Even if some years it’s been a tango on sand, it’s choreography my consciousness and sensorium together have known and kept for me. Your choreography might be another dance altogether....


Hold Still: Coming Undone Reading Print Culture Like a Work of Art

New Directions in Print Culture Studies: Archives, Materiality, and Modern American Culture, eds. Jesse Schwartz and Daniel Worden, Bloomsbury Academic (2022)

My reason for trying to “think like a work of art,” is to find still another way of relating to historical and aesthetic worlds that are ultimately irretrievable. Like [Stephen] Best, I am not trying to recover them in order to suture the genocidal politics of the nineteenth century with some oppositional politics of the twenty-first. But I do mean to salvage the meanings we can find and forge in these archival bits of print culture we have decided must matter to us somehow. These same bits may not matter in another moment, but still and yet, the children in these images – not children anymore, only tones in shapes on cardboard cards – continue to mean now. What I try to reencounter in these images are the linked and unstable channels of geography and time.


Anti-Racism and the Problem of the Soul

Los Angeles Review of Books (June 2020)

So very many of the performances of “reckoning” or “recognizing” happening in private and public manage to feel hollow even when urgently expressed.


Expanding the Sayable: Listening, Teaching

#TeachingC19, eds. Sari Edelstein, Don James McLaughlin, and Kelly Ross (2019)

I’ll be honest: the conversation with my class about classroom culture did not begin comfortably. (How many potentially fruitful questions lay in the chasm of those first, craggy moments of silence, after they’ve been asked, when we rush to fill the silence, to cover over the disquiet—theirs and our own?) I introduced the idea, the idea that is not my idea, explaining that I wanted us to think about what helps us best engage in conversations in a seminar – and, necessarily, what kinds of behaviors, assumptions get in the way. There was no immediate, grand epiphany, and the group did not instantly dive in or feel inspired to take a risk. It was, instead, a little awkward.


Geometry & Mechanism: Material Metaphors and the Force of Uncertainty of Legal Thought

New Literary Analysis of Law Special Issue of Critical Analysis of Law (2018)

This essay takes up the metaphors through which realists and Critical Legal Studies scholars created an idea of legal formalism. These insistently material metaphors emphasized that the errors of so-called formalist jurisprudence arose from two things: first, the material location of law; and second, the purpose of law in relation to the material world. The essay shows how metaphor in particular was rhetorically suited to this kind of dual work. The material metaphors helped to mark and differentiate realists’ intellectual interventions. These metaphors were also part of the aim to reorient law toward the material world by resignifying its materiality. Last, this essay shows that this reorientation toward the material was forged through making material forces precisely out of the immaterial of contingency and uncertainty.


The Queer Digital Touch of Racial Sight

Queer Circuits in Archival Time Special Issue ofWomen & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, Vol. 24, no. 2 (2018)

Michael Jason Enriquez digitally altered celebrity headshots to make the celebrites look like they are wearing chola make-up. The “cholafied” headshot circultated on a Tumblr account, which at its most popular, in 2012 and 2013, spread to over 160 countried and had half a million page views, over 20,000 Tumblr followers, 90,000 reblogs, and at least 60,000 shares on Facebook. Attending to the sensory, affective, and historical rituals hidden in the haptic register of this quotidian digital archive...insinuates and approximates one aspect of what racial seeing feels like in our contemporary moment.


What’s Mine: Involuntary Expressions, Modern Personality, and the Right to Privacy

J19: The Journal for Nineteenth Century Americanists, Vol. 4 No. 2 (2016)


Review of Matthew Fox Amato’s Exposing Slavery: Photography, Human Bondage, and the Birth of Modern Visual Politics

The New England Quarterly, Vol. 93, No. 2 (2020)