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Visual & Media Cultures Colloquium—Chris Vitale

Queering the White Male Gaze: From Mulvey to the Age of Networks via Watchmen (2019)
Wed Feb 9, 2022, 4:00pm to 6:00pm
Porter College at UCSC, Building D, Room 245
Presented by: 
Film & Digital Media
History of Art & Visual Culture


Professor Chris Vitale presents a talk, "Queering the White Male Gaze: From Mulvey to the Age of Networks via Watchmen (2019)," as part of the Visual and Media Cultures Colloquia (VMCC).

Free and open to the public.
Registration requested here.

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It has been almost 50 years since Laura Mulvey's pathbreaking essay on the male gaze all but single-handedly created the field of psychoanalytic feminist film theory, and nearly 40 years since bell hook's powerful expansion of this in regard to issues of race. Where are we now, in 2022, in terms of theorizing the potential of psychoanalytic visual theory for feminist and anti-racist intervention?

Drawing on contemporary work in experimental developmental cognitive psychology, as well as Kalpana Seshardi's argument that if "the phallus" is the signifier of patriarchy, then "whiteness" is its corollary in contemporary forms of racial hegemony within the structures in dominance in much of the world today, this text talk will argue that it is possible to rethink the ways in which psychoanalytic theories of "the gaze" in ways which are more directly amenable to anti-racist, queer, and feminist critique.

Examining scenes from HBO's Watchmen (2019), Lovecraft Country (2020), and other visual texts, and making use of the theoretical interventions by José Esteban Muñoz, Stuart Hall, and Ngyuen Tan Hoang, new logics of visual resistance in and through the gaze will be put forward in ways which can help further transform psychoanalytic theory into a "radical weapon" for not only feminist struggle, as Mulvey original proposed, but also queer and anti-racist struggle, and in ways which are also more amenable to the sorts of distributed, virtual, interactive, and transindividual weavings online today.

Christopher Vitale is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, where he is coordinator of the minor in cinema studies, and helped found the graduate program in media studies. He is the author of Networkologies: A Philosophy of Networks for a Hyperconnected Age ‑ A Manifesto (Zer0 Books, 2014), and two new books, Emergence as Post-Philosophy: Network Science, Relational Theory, and Anti-Oppressive Critique, and Worldtwisting: A Relational Post-Philosophy of the Worlds of Experiencing, both forthcoming from Punctum Books (Fall 2022). He is currently working on a new book, Queering the White Male Gaze: Cinema, Visuality, and Anti-Oppressive Critique.

The annual Visual and Media Cultures Colloquia (VMCC) at UC Santa Cruz are a collaboration between the graduate programs in Film and Digital Media Department and Visual Studies in the History of Art and Visual Culture Department. The series brings an array of cutting-edge scholars to speak on a broad spectrum of subjects.