Dr Alix Beeston

Dr Alix Beeston

Lecturer

School of English, Communication and Philosophy

Email:
beestona@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2087 5412
Location:
1.21, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
Available for postgraduate supervision

I am a member of the English Literature faculty at Cardiff. My work is interdisciplinary in scope and feminist in approach. It focuses on the collisions between the aesthetic and the social in modern and contemporary literature, photography, and film, especially in the United States. I am particularly interested in the ethical possibilities of representations of women in writing and visual culture, as well as in the history of women’s creative labour.

I am happy to supervise PhDs in the areas of twentieth and twenty-first century literature, especially in the U.S.; visual culture studies (photography, film, and television), as well as the intersections between literature and these forms; African American studies and critical race theory; and gender and feminist studies.

My most recent publication is "The Rock on Top: From King Kong to Dwayne Johnson's Skyscraper," online now at the Los Angeles Review of Books. I have several new pieces coming out over the next year: "I Didn't Wake Up Like This," a brief reflection on the process of writing a book in modernist studies for Modernism/modernity online; a review of Louise Hornby's Still Modernism: Photography, Literature, Film in Modernism/modernity; and a new full-length essay on contemporary women's writing in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, titled "The Watch-Bitch Now: Reassessing the Natural Woman in Han Kang's The Vegetarian and Charlotte Wood's The Natural Way of Things."

Upcoming speaking engagements and exhibits:

  • Guest speaker, English Literature Research Seminar, Edinburgh University, 18 January 2019
  • Guest speaker, "The Watch-Bitch Now: Reassessing the Natural Woman in Han Kang's The Vegetarian," and roundtable participant, "New Artistic Practices: Instagram as (Plat)Form," Centre for Modern Studies, University of York, 28 February 2018
  • Session co-convenor, "Art after 1945: At Home or Homeless?", Association for Art History Annual Conference, Brighton, 4-6 April 2019
  • Guest speaker, Writing and Society Research Centre, University of Western Sydney, Australia, 3 May 2019

I was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. At the University of Sydney, I earned a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communication, English, History) with Distinction, before going on to postgraduate study in the Department of English, where I took First Class Honours in 2009 and the PhD in 2015.

Following the completion of my studies, I taught widely in twentieth and twenty-first century literature and film in the Department of English at the University of Sydney, as well as in the Department of Art History at the University of New South Wales. From 2016-2017, I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, before moving to Cardiff in October 2017 to assume the post of Lecturer in English.

Honours and awards

Research fellowships and grants

  • Australian Academy of the Humanities (AAH) Research Travel Grant, 2017
  • AAH Publication Subsidy for In and Out of Sight: Modernist Writing and the Photographic Unseen, 2017
  • Anglican Deaconess Ministries Senior Research Fellowship (AUD 80,000), 2017
  • Department of English Grant for Publication, University of Sydney, 2016
  • Modernist Studies Association (MSA) Travel Grant for Annual Conference, 2016
  • MSA Research Travel Grant, 2016
  • MSA Travel Grant for Annual Conference, 2015
  • Lillian Gary Taylor Fellowship in American Literature, University of Virginia, 2012
  • Pacific Ancient and Modern Languages Association Graduate Student Scholarship for Annual Conference, 2012
  • Postgraduate Travel Grant Award, University of Sydney, 2012
  • Postgraduate Support Scheme Funding, University of Sydney, 2012
  • Australian Postgraduate Award for duration of PhD candidature, 2010

Teaching awards and training

  • Nominee, Most Innovative Staff Member, Enriching Student Life Awards, Cardiff University, 2018
  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) Student Teaching Commendations for “Transatlantic Negotiations” and “Imagining America,” University of Sydney, 2016
  • FASS Student Teaching Commendations for “Literature and Cinema,” “Imagining America,” and “Novel Worlds,” University of Sydney, 2015
  • FASS Student Teaching Commendations for “Imagining America,” University of Sydney, 2014
  • FASS Dean’s Citation for Excellence in Teaching, University of Sydney, 2012
  • Certificate of Completion, Teaching Development Program, University of Sydney, 2011

Professional memberships

Academic positions

  • 2017-present: Lecturer in English, School of English, Communication and Philosophy, Cardiff University
  • 2016-2017: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney
  • 2016: Sessional (Adjunct) Lecturer, Department of Art History, University of New South Wales
  • 2014-2016: Sessional (Adjunct) Lecturer, Department of English, University of Sydney

Speaking engagements

Invited lectures, speaking engagements, and exhibits:

  • Guest lecture, "Frozen in the Glassy, Bluestreaked Air: John Dos Passos's Photographic Metropolis," and roundtable respondent, "New Directions in Modernist Studies," Twentieth Century Research Seminar, Graduate Center, City University of New York, 2 November 2018
  • Guest lecture, "Frozen in the Glassy, Bluestreaked Air: John Dos Passos's Photographic Metropolis," American Literature Research Seminar, Oxford University, 11 October 2018
  • Guest panelist, "The Representation of Muslim Women in Photography," Ffotogallery Wales, Cardiff, 18 September 2018
  • Guest critic, The Review Show, BBC Radio Wales, 15 June 2018
  • Guest participant in keynote roundtable, "Gender at a Crossroads," and digital exhibition, "Object Women: A History of Women in Photography," Gender at a Crossroads Conference, Cardiff University, 16 May 2018
  • Guest lecture, “Images in Crisis: Experiments in the Photographic Unseen,” and workshop presenter, "From Archive to Article," Modernist Studies Workshop, University of Michigan, 11-12 January 2018

Conference papers, exhibits, and other appearances (selected):

  • Digital exhibition, "Object Women: A History of Women in Photography," Modernist Studies Association (MSA) Annual Conference, Columbus, Ohio, 8-11 November 2018
  • "In Time and Close Up: Classical Cinema, Continuity Editing, and the Memory of Early Film," MSA, Columbus, Ohio, 8-11 November 2018
  • Seminar leader, "Photography and Other Arts," MSA, Columbus, Ohio, 8-11 November 2018
  • "Looking for John Dos Passos, Finding Anna Held," Historicising Modernism/Modernist Archives Conference, University of York, 17-19 May 2018
  • “The Natural Woman in Han Kang’s The Vegetarian,” Critical and Cultural Theory Seminar Series, Cardiff University, 21 February 2018
  • “Jean Toomer’s Erroneous Pictures,” Modern Languages Association Annual Convention, New York City, 4-7 January 2018
  • “Cahun v. Dalí: Collaging the Female Subject,” Decorating Dissidence: Feminism, Modernism and the Arts, Queen Mary University of London, 3-4 November 2017
  • “Seeing Jean Toomer’s Cane,” Roundtable: Race, In/Visibility, Modernism, MSA Annual Conference, Amsterdam, 10-13 August 2017
  • Seminar leader, "Modernism's Margins," MSA Annual Conference, Amsterdam, 10-13 August 2017
  • “Triangulating Bette Davis,” MSA Annual Conference, Pasadena, 17-20 November 2016
  • “The Two Annie Mae Gudgers: American Photographs and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,” American Cultures Workshop, United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney, 22 June 2016
  • “Un-Dissipating the Screenplay: Fitzgerald’s Popular Modernism,” MSA Annual Conference, Boston, 19-22 November 2015

Committees and reviewing

  • Manuscript reviewer, "Modernist Women Writers and American Social Engagement," Rowman & Littlefield (2018)
  • Journal reviewer, differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies (2018 ongoing)
  • Journal reviewer, Modernism/modernity (2018 ongoing)
  • Advisory board member, Modernist Network Cymru (2018 ongoing)
  • Early Career Representative, School of English, Communication and Philosophy Research Strategy Committee (2018 ongoing)
  • Co-convenor, with Catherine Laing, Cardiff BookTalk (2017 ongoing)
  • School of English, Communication and Philosophy Equality and Diversity Committee member, Cardiff University (2017-2018)

2018

2017

2016

In the 2018-2019 academic year, I will be teaching three new modules in the English Literature undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Each of these modules emerges from and feeds into my research, while also incorporating creative pedagogy and assessment.

Object Women in Literature and Film (second year undergraduate, Spring 2017-2018 and Autumn 2018-2019)
The woman as image, as icon, as object: the history of literature and film is replete with female figures who hover between personhood and objecthood. Object women live and die by the whims and desires of the male protagonists who still stand at the narrative centers of our cultural imagination. But object women, in the view of this module, are also women who object, who resist their objectification in unexpected ways. This module draws on key theories in feminist studies—including the notions of the male gaze and of female masquerade, as well as newer theories that connect issues of gender to issues of race, sexuality, ethnicity, and class—in examining a series of literary and visual texts, mostly from the turn of the century to the 1960s. As we uncover various tropes of the object woman in this period, we will explore how literature and film stage the possibilities for women to circumvent their objectification. The final two weeks of the course are given over to discussion of two contemporary texts that have elicited heated debate for their representations of women: Beyoncé’s Lemonade: The Visual Album (2016) and George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).

Representing Race in Contemporary America (third year undergraduate, Spring 2018-2019)
This module explores contemporary representations of African American experience — from literature and film to popular music and television—in the context of a longer history of African American cultural production. It pairs very recent works such as Paul Beatty’s satirical novel The Sellout, Jordan Peele’s horror film Get Out, rapper Kendrick Lamar’s magnum opus To Pimp a Butterfly, and comedian Issa Rae’s HBO show Insecure with others dating from the second half of the twentieth century. In examining these modern and contemporary texts in conversation with one another, we will explore how authors and makers work with and against established traditions and genres. Our discussion of issues of identity and inequity will approach race in connection with other forms of social difference, such as class, gender, and sexuality.

Writing Women (MA program, Autumn 2018-2019)
This module considers writing women in the twentieth century, in two senses: first, the writing of women into—and out of—literary histories; second, the writing produced—and not produced—by women. By reading a selection of classic and contemporary feminist essays on the problematic figure and marginal position of the woman writer or artist in history, we will work through some of the institutional and sociopolitical realities that have limited or frustrated women’s attempts to produce literary works and, at once, to be appreciated as authors. We will then seek to develop an ethically and historically informed hermeneutic for reading experimental modernist prose writing by women. Our discussion will attend to the representations of women in these texts, while also broaching issues around these texts, including the lived practices of creative labour, the variable, ongoing processes of canonisation, and the phenomenon of literary celebrity. The final few weeks of the module will focus more closely on the politics of memorialising women writers by pairing literary texts with films that adapt or otherwise engage those texts.

My first book, In and Out of Sight: Modernist Writing and the Photographic Unseen, was published as part of the Modernist Literature and Culture Series at Oxford University Press in January 2018. Drawing on work in visual culture studies that emphasises the interplay between still and moving images, this book provides a new account of the relationship between photography and modernist literature—a literature that has long been considered to trace, in its formal experimentation, the influence of modern visual technologies. The catalogue record is here. Work from and adjacent to this project has appeared in PMLA, Modernism/modernity, and Arizona Quarterly.

To coincide with the release of In and Out of Sight, and drawing on the collections of the George Eastman Museum, I launched an innovative digital art history project on Instagram called Object Women in March 2018. During its two month run, the project featured images from early photography to the present, accompanied by microessays exploring the representation of women. You can read the introductory essay here and another article about the project on the Oxford University Press blog.

I have received numerous grants in support of my research, notably the Australian Academy of the Humanities (AAH) Research Travel Grant as well as the AAH Publication Subsidy in 2017, the Modernist Studies Association Research Travel Grant in 2016, and the Lillian Gary Taylor Fellowship in American Literature at the University of Virginia in 2012.

Current work

I continue to work on literature and photography in modernism, while also extending my research into contemporary literature and culture, including through a new essay on contemporary women's writing, “The Watch-Bitch Now: Reassessing the Natural Woman in Han Kang’s The Vegetarian and Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things.” This essay will be published in 2019 by Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society.

I am also beginning two new interrelated projects on unfinished texts, broadly conceived. First, I am working on a book-length project examining the unfinished writing of women authors and makers across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It will focus on the work of Zora Neale Hurston, Lorraine Hansberry, Carson McCullers, Tillie Olsen, and Kathleen Collins, among others. Approaching the unfinished text as an ideal textual site for revealing how creative labour reflects and cements wider social norms and inequities, this alternative history of women’s writing (and/as non-writing) will blend close textual analysis with the study of the lived practices of artistic work, the institutional realities of literary production, the processes of canonisation, and the phenomenon of literary celebrity.

Second, with Stefan Solomon, Lecturer in Media Studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, I am developing a collaborative research project titled “The Unfinished Film: Feminist Possibilities, Global Contexts." We are seeking funding to establish an international network of scholars and film practitioners to explore this topic over the next few years, working in collaboration with Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff.

I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:

  • modern and contemporary literature, especially in the U.S.;
  • visual culture studies (photography, film, and television);
  • intermediality, especially as it relates to literature and film;
  • African American studies and critical race theory; and,
  • gender and feminist studies.