Title — Assistant Professor of American Studies
Address — 2108 G Street, Room 203B
Phone — 202-994-7489
E-mail — firstname.lastname@example.org
Areas of Expertise —
political theory, critical, feminist and cultural theory, contemporary political discourse, film and media studies
Professor Anker’s current book project, Orgies of Feeling: Melodramatic Politics and the Pursuit of Freedom (Duke University Press, under contract) examines the role of melodramatic narratives in shaping post-9/11 American political discourse. It argues that melodrama is not only a film and literary genre but a significant form of political discourse that galvanizes national sentiment while legitimating violent and regulatory state power.
Orgies of Feeling contends that the use of melodrama to depict political action reflects the American public’s sense of debilitated agency and its quest for a freedom it cannot achieve. The melodramatic pursuit of a particular kind of individualistic freedom– which emphasizes autonomy, mastery, and control over experiences of victimization and suffering– actually works, paradoxically, to further erode political agency; it shores up oppressive political power and undercuts conditions for collective political action. Engaging the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin and Michel Foucault, as well as contemporary political theory and feminist film studies, this work departs from conventional analyses of post-9/11 politics, in which citizens have willingly traded more safety for less freedom under the specter of terrorism. Instead, it argues that it was individual freedom, not national security, that Americans thought they were achieving by dramatically increasing state power, obstructing their pursuit by the very methods they employed in their efforts.
A.B., Brown University, 1997
Ed.M., Harvard University, 1998
Ph.D., UC Berkeley, 2007
Elisabeth Anker's research and teaching interests are at the intersection of political theory, critical theory, cultural analysis and media studies. Using both theoretical and cultural material, her work investigates the relationships between political discourse, power, and national identity in American political life. Prof. Anker received her PhD in Political Theory from UC Berkeley, where she also received a Designed Emphasis in Film Studies. She has held research fellowships at Brown University's Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women and UC Berkeley's Charles Travers Fellowship in Ethics and Politics. Her research has also been supported by a faculty grant from The George Washington University.
Orgies of Feeling: Melodramatic Politics and the Pursuit of Freedom (Duke University Press, under contract)
“Feminist Theory and The Failures of Post-9/11 Freedom” Politics and Gender 8:2 (June 2012): 207-216. (Commissioned exchange with Sharon Krause, Nancy Hirschmann, Jennifer Nedelsky and Cristina Beltran on feminist political theory and freedom.)
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“Left Melodrama” Contemporary Political Theory 11.2 (May 2012): 130–152. advance online publication July 2011 (DOI: 10.1057/cpt.2011.10)
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“Heroic Identifications: Or ‘You Can Love Me Too—I Am So Like The State’ ” Theory and Event 15.1 (March 2012)
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“Villains, Victims and Heroes: Melodrama, Media and 9/11.” Journal of Communication. 55:1 (March 2005): 22-37.
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Review of American Multiculturalism After 9/11 and Out of the Blue: September 11 and the Novel. American Literature 83:2 (June 2011): 471-474.
“Terror Firma: The Landscape of Terror in American Politics” Review of Terrorist Assemblages by Jasbir Puar and States of Terror by Robin Goodman. Theory and Event 14.1(March 2011)
“National Love in Violent Times” Review of Postcolonial Melancholia by Paul Gilroy and The Truth About Patriotism by Steven Johnston. Political Theory 36:5 (October 2008 ):762-769
“The Only Thing We Have To Fear. . .” Review of Fear: The History of a Political Idea by Corey Robin and In The Shadow of No Towers by Art Spigelman. Theory and Event. 8:3 (September 2005)
“Wendy Brown” in The Encyclopedia of Political Thought eds. Michael Gibbons, Diana Coole, Lisa Ellis (Sage, forthcoming 2014)
Ugly Freedoms: Failure, Passivity and Dependence in The 21st Century. New book project on contemporary practices of freedom. Manuscript in beginning stages.
“Playing the Osama bin Laden Card” Al Jazeera (September 15, 2012) link
“US Memorial Day: A Semantic Minefield” Al Jazeera (June 18, 2012) link
Stealing America: Vote By Vote. Documentary Film Dir: Dorothy Fadiman. (Concentric Media, 2008. DVD)
Capitalism and Neoliberalism, Graduate Seminar (forthcoming Spring 2013)
Debating Democracy in America, Graduate Seminar (Spring 2011 & Fall 2008)
Introduction to Critical Theory, Graduate Seminar (Fall 2010)
American Political Thought and the Melodramatic Imaginary, Graduate Seminar (Fall2009)
Freedom in American Thought and Culture, Undergraduate Lecture ( forthcoming Spring 2013, Spring 2011, Fall 2009, Spring 2009 & Fall 2008)
Citizenship in American Culture, Senior Research Seminar (Fall 2012 & Fall 2011)
Politics and Film, Undergraduate Lecture (Fall 2012 and Fall 2010)
American Popular Culture After 9/11, First-Year Seminar (Fall 2011 & Spring 2009)