Keynote Address, April 21, 2017
Tentative Title: “The Pussy Grab: Melodramatic Politics and the Revival of Sovereignty”
Professor Elisabeth Anker is Associate Professor of American Studies and Political Science at The George Washington University. Professor Anker’s research and teaching interests are at the intersection of political theory, critical theory, cultural analysis, and media studies. Professor Anker received her PhD in Political Theory from UC Berkeley, where she also received a Designated Emphasis in Film Studies. Professor Anker’s book Orgies of Feeling: Melodrama and the Politics of Freedom (Duke, 2014) examines the role of melodrama in US politics, as a powerful political discourse that intensifies suffering and galvanizes national sentiment to legitimate state violence. Orgies of Feeling reframes political theories of sovereignty, freedom, and power by analyzing the work of melodrama and affect in the War on Terror, neoliberal politics, Hollywood film, and post-Marxist critical theory. Building on Friedrich Nietzsche’s notion of “orgies of feeling,” in which overwhelming emotions displace commonplace experiences of powerlessness onto a dramatic story of injured freedom, melodrama animates desires for unconstrained freedom in devitalized citizens. Orgies of Feeling was a finalist for the 2015 Romero Prize for the Best First Book in American Studies, awarded annually by the American Studies Association.
Professor Anker’s next book is tentatively titled Ugly Freedoms. The book examines contemporary visions of freedom in an era marked by nonsovereignty, global interdependence, and heightened levels of inequality.