MONICA HUERTA

writer • professor

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Books


MAGICAL HABITS


In Magical Habits Monica Huerta draws on her experiences growing up in her family's Mexican restaurants and her life as a scholar of literature and culture to meditate on how relationships among self, place, race, and storytelling contend with the afterlives of history and racial capitalism.

“This striking debut blends personal and political essays with U.S. and Mexican histories, photos, menus and a fable to indulge ‘multiple habits of thought rather than proposing there is one way of knowing.’”The New York Times

Magical Habits is as much a treasure trove as it is a book—full of surprises, glittering insights, lyrical vignettes, personal archives, political history, family lore, and brilliant literary critique. The writing is exquisite, for the book is both polyphonic and constantly—effortlessly—changing tack. I would turn the page without any sense of where Monica Huerta might take me next, only knowing that I wanted to follow, that I did not want to come out from under this spell.”
— Justin Torres, author of We the Animals

“Monica Huerta moves readers toward a habit of being captured by objects that mesh one's own singular and collective histories. We learn to breathe with them and to be dispossessed by them. This fantastic book enchanted me and taught me so much.” — Lauren Berlant, author of Cruel Optimism 

Magical Habits’s blend of personal archive and theory prompts the reader to question their assumptions around what constitutes accepted archives and heralded academic discourse. . . . Huerta performs a rich kind of self-ekphrasis, looking at material from her own life and family for clues about how to live alongside scholarship: television, family lore, tales from her love life that read like movie reels." — Rosa Boshier, Los Angeles Review of Books

...an intimate, academic, genre-bending study of  race, history,  and heritage...a much-needed reminder that there are countless ways to tell a story..." — Arianna Rebolini, The Millions

“Delightfully heterogenous and perfectly unblended, Huerta’s mixture of creative and critical writing spans from history to monologues, to tales and family documents. . . . As a book which ‘seeks to enact as much as describe,’ Magical Habits is a love story between the reader and the writing, one to be read with generosity and eagerness (ix).” — Adriana Murad Konings, ASAP/Journal

Magical Habits, is unlike many other contemporary Latinx studies monographs. It breaks with generic conventions of literary criticism and stuns with Huerta’s reflections on everyday encounters with history and capitalism via family, place, race, self, and the stories they intertwine.” — Jennifer M. Lozano, MELUS

"Thoughtful, wry, and intimate, Magical Habits is a memoir that’s rich with questions...." — Meg Nola, Foreword

“Huerta weaves into each chapter powerful stories of her upbringing and family and the narrative of her own winding path in academia. She cleverly uses a variety of documents and historical archival material, sourced from her family and their businesses in Chicago and Mexico, to explore wide-ranging themes.” — Amy Lewontin, The Library Journal

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THE UNINTENDED


The Unintended traces the subtle ways legal thinking through photographic lenses reinscribed a particular aesthetics of whiteness in the ownership over images. The book pulls together an archive that encompasses performance and portraiture alongside the legal, emphasizing the making of “expression” into property to focus our attention on the failures of control that cameras do not invent, but rather put new emphasis on. The Unintended proposes that analyzing the sensed horizons of intentionality offers another way into understanding how white supremacy functions. Ultimately, its unique reading practice offers a historically-specific vantage on the everyday workings of racial capitalism and the inheritances of white supremacy that structure so much of our lives.

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Publications



An Essay Written in Sand

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

Anti-Racism and the Problem of the Soul

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Review of Matthew Fox-Amato, Exposing Slavery: Photography, Human Bondage, and the Birth of Modern Visual Politics (Oxford University Press, 2019)

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Expanding the Sayable: Listening, Teaching

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

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The Queer Digital Touch of Racial Sight

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

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 Review of Yu Fang-Cho, Uncoupling American Empire: Cultural Politics of Deviance and Unequal Difference, 1890-1910 (SUNY Press, 2013), Claire Viginia Eby’s Until Choice Do Us Part: Marriage Reform in the Progressive Era (The University of Chicago Press, 2014), and Holly Jackson’s American Blood: The Ends of Family in American Literature, 1850-1900 (Oxford University Press, 2014) 








“The Meantime: A Theory of Photographic Temporality”

“Wharton: Genre and Gender”