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Dr Alix Beeston

Dr Alix Beeston

Senior Lecturer

School of English, Communication and Philosophy

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

Overview

I am a Senior Lecturer in English at Cardiff University. My work is interdisciplinary in scope and feminist in approach, focusing on 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 the author of In and Out of Sight: Modernist Writing and the Photographic Unseen (Oxford University Press, 2018) and the co-editor, with Stefan Solomon, of a forthcoming collection of essays, Incomplete: The Feminist Possibilities of Unfinished Film (University of California Press, 2023). I have two new books under contract, which will develop my work on photography, gender, and digital culture: Photographic Women, forthcoming from MIT Press in 2024, and The Photograph in the Digital Age, forthcoming as part of the Oxford History of Art series in 2027. 

I also edit the Visualities forum on the online platform of Modernism/modernity and I sit on the editorial board of the Unmade Film and Television book series at Intellect and the advisory board of the Modernist Network Cymru. In 2021, I will be part of the judging committee for the Modernist Studies Association's Annual Book Prize. At Cardiff, I am a founding member and the current convenor of Image Works: Research and Practice in Visual Culture, which provides innovative contexts for academics and students working on visual culture to connect with artists and practitioners. To find out about our programme, click here; to join our mailing list or to pitch an idea for an event, email imageworks@cardiff.ac.uk or contact me directly.

For the academic year 2020–2021, I will be on sabbatical funded by the competitive Cardiff University Research Leave Scheme. During this year, if international travel is possible, I will be a Visiting Fellow at the School of Letters, Arts, and Media at the University of Sydney, jointly affiliated with the Departments of English and Art History. I have also been awarded a Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society to conduct archival research at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library.

Recent and forthcoming publications:

  • "On Instagram: An Intimate, Immediate Conversation" (with Alexandra Kingston-Reese and Cadence Kinsey) at ASAP/J
  • "The Watch-Bitch Now: Reassessing the Natural Woman in Han Kang's The Vegetarian and Charlotte Wood's The Natural Way of Things," in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 
  • "Fingers Stained with Fruit and Ink," review of Ellena Savage's Blueberries, at Sydney Review of Books
  • "A Ghost with a Camera," Post45 Contemporaries cluster on Ling Ma's Severance
  • Forthcoming in April 2021: Review of Anwen Crawford's No Document, at Sydney Review of Books
  • Forthcoming in Autumn 2021: Review of Genevieve Yue, Girl Head: Feminism and Film Materiality, at JCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies
  • Forthcoming in 2021: "Photography: Gertrude Käsebier and the Maternal Line of Sight,” Edinburgh Companion to Modernism and Technology, ed. Alex Goody and Ian Whittington 

Biography

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 received 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. I moved to Cardiff in October 2017 to assume the post of Lecturer in English; in August 2019, I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in English.

Honours and awards

Research fellowships and grants

  • University of Sydney School of Literature, Art and Media Visiting Fellowship, 2020
  • American Philosophical Society Franklin Research Grant, 2020
  • Cardiff University College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences International Initiatives Fund Award for "The Unfinished Film: Feminist Possibilities, Global Contexts," 2020
  • Cardiff University Research Leave Scheme (competitive award for additional research leave in 2020–2021), 2019
  • 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
  • University of Sydney Department of English Grant for Publication, 2016
  • Modernist Studies Association (MSA) Travel Grant for Annual Conference, 2016
  • MSA Research Travel Grant, 2016
  • MSA Travel Grant for Annual Conference, 2015
  • University of Virginia Lillian Gary Taylor Fellowship in American Literature,  2012
  • Pacific Ancient and Modern Languages Association Graduate Student Scholarship for Annual Conference, 2012
  • University of Sydney Postgraduate Travel Grant Award, 2012
  • University of Sydney Postgraduate Support Scheme Funding, 2012
  • Australian Postgraduate Award for duration of PhD candidature, 2010

Teaching awards and training

  • Nominee, Most Innovative Staff Member and Personal Tutor of the Year, Enriching Student Life Awards, Cardiff University, 2019
  • 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

  • 2019–present: Senior Lecturer in English, School of English, Communication and Philosophy, Cardiff University
  • 2017–2019: 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 and exhibits:

  • Guest lecture, "The Photographic Nude: Surface, Skin, Flesh," with Anne Anlin Cheng as respondent, International Seminar: New Research in Gender and Sexuality," Ca' Foscari University of Venice (online), 29 January 2021 
  • Guest lecture, "Mothering Photography: Gertrude Käsebier and the Maternal Line of Sight,” Humanities Institute and the Department of English, Drama, and Film, University College Dublin (online), 7 October 2020 
  • Public lecture, "Kate Chopin's The Awakening: Too Strong a Drink for Moral Babes," Newport and Gwent Literary Club, Newport, 30 October 2019
  • Guest participant, “Digital Literary Studies at Cardiff: A Discussion with Katherine Bode," Cardiff Digital Cultures Network, Cardiff University, 29 May 2019
  • Guest lecture, "Frozen in the Glassy, Bluestreaked Air: John Dos Passos's Photographic Metropolis," Writing and Society Research Centre, University of Western Sydney, Australia, 26 April 2019
  • Guest lecture, "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 2019
  • Guest lecture, "Frozen in the Glassy, Bluestreaked Air," English Literature Research Seminar, Edinburgh University, 18 January 2019
  • Guest lecture, "Frozen in the Glassy, Bluestreaked Air," 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," American Literature Research Seminar, Oxford University, 11 October 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 and other appearances (selected):

  • Roundtable Chair and Participant, "The Feminist Possibilities of Unfinished Film," Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, 17–21 March 2021 (online)
  • "Kathleen Collins, Posthumously," Modern Languages Association Convention, Seattle, 9–12 January 2020
  • Roundtable organiser and chair, "The Future of Modernist Studies in the Age of Precarity", Modernist Studies Association (MSA) Annual Conference, Toronto, 17–20 October 2019
  • Seminar organiser and leader, "Modernist Show and Tell", MSA, Toronto, 17–20 October 2019
  • "Walker Evans's Icons of Depression," MSA, Toronto, 17–20 October 2019
  • "The Photographer at Work, the Woman at Home: Gertrude Käsebier and the Maternal Line of Sight," Modernism in the Home Conference, Birmingham, 1–2 July 2019
  • Roundtable chair and participant, "Troublesome Monographs," British Association for Modernist Studies Conference, London, 20–22 June 2019
  • Digital exhibition, "Object Women: A History of Women in Photography," 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
  • Roundtable participant, “Seeing Jean Toomer’s Cane,” Race, In/Visibility, Modernism, MSA Annual Conference, Amsterdam, 10–13 August 2017
  • Seminar organiser and 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

Public engagement activities:

  • Host of Cardiff BookTalk on Octavia Butler's Kindred, online seminar hosted by Cardiff University, 3 March 2021
  • Organiser, with Jess Cotton, and speaker, The Masked Face, online seminar hosted by Image Works: Research and Practice in Visual Culture, Cardiff University, 25 November 2020
  • Organiser, host, and speaker, Instagram: A Symposium, sponsored by Image Works, National Museum of Wales, 29 February 2020
  • Guest critic, International Women’s Day and the release of Captain Marvel, Good Evening Wales, BBC Radio Wales, 8 March 2019
  • Organiser and host, Launch Party for Image Works: Research and Practice in Visual Culture, featuring photographer Clémentine Schneidermann, Chapter Arts Centre, 21 February 2019
  • Guest panelist, "The Representation of Muslim Women in Photography," Ffotogallery Wales, Cardiff, 18 September 2018
  • Roundtable participant, “The Problem With Rhondda Rips It Up”, Wales Arts Review, 5 July 2018
  • Guest critic, The Review Show, BBC Radio Wales, 15 June 2018
  • Chair and moderator for Public Lecture, “Why Pop Culture is Obsessed with Religion”, Alissa Wilkinson, The King’s College, St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney, 12 October 2017
  • Discussant for artist’s talk with Jo Chew, “Numbering Stars”, Thienny Lee Gallery, Sydney, 14 June 2017
  • Public lecture, “Object Women: A History of Women in Photography”, PEACE Talks: Political, Ethical, Artistic, and Cultural Engagement, Sydney, 13 May 2017

Committees and reviewing

Professional service:

  • Member, Judging Committee for the Modernist Studies Association Annual Book Prize (2021)
  • Member, School of English, Communication and Philosophy Recruitment and Admissions Committee (2019–2020)
  • Founding member and convenor, Image Works: Research and Practice in Visual Culture (2018 ongoing)
  • Advisory board member, Modernist Network Cymru (2018 ongoing)
  • Founder and convenor, Modern and Contemporary Workshop, Cardiff University (2017 ongoing)
  • Early Career Representative, School of English, Communication and Philosophy Research Strategy Committee (2018–2020)
  • Convenor, with Catherine Laing, Cardiff BookTalk (2017–2019)
  • School of English, Communication and Philosophy Equality and Diversity Committee member, Cardiff University (2017–2018)

Editing and reviewing:

  • Editorial advisory board member, Unmade Film and Television book series at Intellect (2020 ongoing)
  • Editor, Visualities forum, Modernism/modernity Print Plus (2019 ongoing)
  • Manuscript reviewer, Edinburgh University Press (2020), Oxford University Press (2019), and Rowman & Littlefield (2018)
  • Journal reviewer, Twentieth-Century Literaturedifferences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural StudiesModernism/modernity, Literature and History, Sociologica

Publications

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

Teaching

I will be on research leave during the 2020–2021 academic year and therefore will not be teaching any modules. Below are descriptions of modules I have developed and led as part of the English Literature degree programmes at Cardiff University. 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)
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)
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)
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 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. Work from and adjacent to this project appeared in PMLA, Modernism/modernity, and Arizona Quarterly.

In The Year's Work in English Studies, Shawna Ross praised the innovative and interdisciplinary methodology of In and Out of Sight, stating that the book "may be the most thrilling offering of 2018." In and Out of Sight was also reviewed in Modernism/modernity as a "probing, artful, and original" study that, in its methodology of "critical montage," "poses important questions for the future of modernist studies." The reviewer for American Literary History called it “powerful and persuasive,” “one of several exciting and innovative accounts of the relation between literature and photography to appear in recent years," while the reviewer for MFS: Modern Fiction Studies described it as a “daring,” “effective,” and “impressive first book [that] makes significant contributions not just to the reading of literary and visual modernism but to the understanding of gender, race, and class in twentieth-century American culture.” Further positive reviews have appeared in The Modern Language ReviewThe Modernist Review, and NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction.

To coincide with the release of In and Out of Sight, and making use of the collections of the George Eastman Museum, I launched a digital art history project on Instagram called Object Women: A History of Women in Photography 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 blogObject Women was also discussed in this write-up of the 2018 Modernist Studies Association Conference; in 2020, I reflected on the project in this feature on contemporary art and Instagram at ASAP/J.

I have been invited to give guest lectures connected to my research at the University of Oxford, the University of York, University College Dublin, the University of Michigan, the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, Ca'Foscari University of Venice, the Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University, and elsewhere. My research has been supported by numerous grants, including the American Philosophical Society Franklin Research Grant in 2020, the Australian Academy of the Humanities Research Travel Grant and 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 am at work on three new book projects:

  • With Stefan Solomon, Lecturer in Media Studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, I am editing an essay collection, Incomplete: The Feminist Possibilities of Unfinished Film. This volume is under contract with the University of California Press, where it will appear as part of the Feminist Media Histories book series in early 2023. We are planning a suite of public events connected to this topic in Australia and the United Kingdom in 2021 or 2022. The UK events will be supported by a substantial grant awarded by Cardiff's College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences International Initiatives Fund.
  • My next sole-authored book is Photographic Women, which will be published by MIT Press in 2024. This book will offer a richly illustrated account of women in photography that brings together scholarly and creative non-fictional styles of writingThis book asks: in photographs of women, who is the subject and who is the object? What forms of power are there not only in seeing but also in being seen? What forms of agency have women exhibited in relation to photographic representation and practice? How do women in photography look back at those who look at them, revealing the conditions of their visual arrest? And how do photographic women return our gaze, making us reflect on our own spectatorship as an ethical and political act? 
  • The Photograph in the Digital Age, forthcoming in 2027, was commissioned as part of the Oxford History of Art series. This book will provide a generalist account of the aesthetics, practices, and politics of contemporary art photography as they are shaped by—or exist in conversation with—digital technologies and cultures. Explaining how digital photography sits with chemical photography, both recasting and extending the medium’s history, the book approaches the digital photograph as a mutable and hybrid object, subject to a diverse range of artistic and social uses and existing alongside other technologies and mediums. It focuses not only on the forms and aesthetics of digital photography from the 1990s to the present but also on how photographers have participated in the shifting visual cultures of the digital age, engaging with, for instance, the rise of citizen journalism, the genre of selfies, the impacts of ecological and economic crisis, and the oppressive power of surveillance.

Supervision

I currently supervise a number of brilliant PhD students whose projects explore twentieth-century women's writing, sensation, and space; intermediality in contemporary accounts of war by women; and identity formation in novels by Arab-American women after 1980, among other topics.

I have supported several successful applications for postgraduate funding through the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership, and I would be happy to hear from prospective PhD students who are seeking funding under this scheme or from other bodies for research in areas that connect to my expertise. These areas include:

  • modern and contemporary literature, especially in the U.S.;
  • visual culture studies (photography, film, and television, including in the digital age);
  • intermediality, i.e. the relationships between various media forms;
  • gender and feminist studies, and;
  • African American studies.

Current supervision

Josie Cray

Josie Cray

Research student

Alaa Al Ghamdi

Research student

Beth Pyner

Research student

Past projects

  • Co-Supervisor (30%), ReBecca Compton, "RPG: Role-playing Gender; Projecting the Gendered Self into Games" (passed with minor corrections, July 2019)