My scholarship interrogates international cinema’s intense, if uneven, reliance on documentary footage of animals, and particularly animal death. My current book project, Slaughter Cinema, reads films that are—and are not—“about” the places and practices of animal slaughter together, and explores cinema’s capacity to unsettle the ways in which contemporary Western audiences have become habituated to viewing (or not viewing, as the case may be) animal life and death within modern regimes of animal slaughter. An earlier iteration of some of the central ideas of Slaughter Cinema can be found in “Why Look at Dead Animals?,” Framework: the Journal of Cinema and Media (57.1): 32–57.
My research contributes to growing scholarly interest in animals and cinema by analyzing films from diverse genres and international traditions.“Sticky Matter: The Persistence of Animals as Allegory in Lucretia Martel’s La Ciénaga and La mujer sin cabeza” (forthcoming in Screen, 58.4) examines Martel’s reliance on animals as internationally resonant metaphors. In “Being Struck: On the Force of Slaughter and Cinematic Affect” (Animal Life and the Moving Image, ed. by Michael Lawrence and Lauren McMahon [Palgrave MacMillon/BFI, 2016], 187–202), Nicole Shukin and I develop a genealogy from Sergei Eisenstein’s use of slaughter imagery as political incitement in Strike to contemporary animal-rights films such as The Cove. I also regularly turn to film’s negotiation of difference and demonstrate how discourses of race and gender stand to enrich—and be enriched by—critiques of the sustained asymmetries that structure human and animal life. The intersections of gender and species lie at the heart of my analysis of Martel’s films, while an interrogation of the co-implications of race and species grounds my article on the surrealist aesthetics of Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep in Cinema Journal (54.3).
Reviews of my work
Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin’s videographic response to my article on Killer of Sheep is available at [In]Transition. Ted Geier recently reviewed Animal Life and the Moving Image for Parallax (Sept. 26, 2016).