Title — Assistant Professor of American Studies
Address — 2108 G Street, Room 203B
Phone — 202-994-7489
E-mail — email@example.com
Areas of Expertise —
political theory, critical, feminist and cultural theory, contemporary political discourse, film and media studies
Professor Anker’s book, Orgies of Feeling: Melodramatic Politics and the Pursuit of Freedom (Duke University Press, forthcoming 2014) examines the role of melodramatic narratives in shaping political knowledge. It argues that melodramatic genre conventions from popular culture infuse contemporary political discourse, influencing the parameters of citizenship and the operations of state power. “Melodramatic political discourse” casts political events within a moral economy that identifies the nation-state as an innocent victim of villainous action, and evokes intense affective responses to wrenching injustices imposed upon the nation-state. Locating virtue in national suffering, and heroism in unilateral state action, melodrama depicts war and state surveillance as moral imperatives for the virtuous practice of freedom. Pressing canonical theorists to address contemporary political problems, Orgies of Feeling engages theories of sovereignty, legitimacy, affect, and freedom in Nietzsche, Marx, Rousseau (who invented the termmélodrame), Weber, Freud, Benjamin, and Foucault to scrutinize melodramatic political discourse. Building in particular on Nietzsche’s concept of “Orgies of Feeling,” in which intense emotions mask an underlying despair about one’s powerlessness and lack of freedom, the book contends that the use of melodrama reflects the American public’s unsuccessful efforts overcome systemic experiences of unfreedom in a neoliberal era marked by decreasing possibilities for participatory governance and intensifying levels of economic precarity.
Professor Anker is in the early stages of her next book project, tentatively titled Ugly Freedoms. Itexamines contemporary practices of freedom in an era marked by nonsovereignty, global interdependence, and heightened levels of inequality.Contrary to popular traditions of modern political thought that locate freedom in sovereignty and choice, this book contends that pursuits of free choice and sovereignty often exacerbate rather than overcome conditions of unfreedom. And it also argues that practices of freedom can be found in “ugly” situations that would seem to be its opposite: namely passivity, dependence, disorientation, and failure. Like Anker’s first book, Ugly Freedoms also works at the intersection of political theory and cultural analysis. It will examine ugly freedoms in a range of spaces and practices, including contemporary political action, poetry, art, and Hollywood film.
Professor Anker will begin serving as Associate Editor for the journal Contemporary Political Theory in Fall 2013.
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 power, political knowledge, and cultural products. 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 multiple faculty grants from The George Washington University.
Orgies of Feeling: Melodrama and the Politics of Freedom. (Duke University Press, forthcoming 2014)
“Feminist Theory and The Failures of Post-9/11 Freedom” Politics and Gender(Commissioned exchange) 8:2 (June 2012): 207-216.
“Left Melodrama” Contemporary Political Theory 11.2 (May 2012): 130–152.
“Heroic Identifications: Or ‘You Can Love Me Too—I Am So Like The State’ ”Theory and Event 15.1 (March 2012)
“Villains, Victims and Heroes: Melodrama, Media and 9/11.” Journal of Communication. 55:1 (March 2005): 22-37.
“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
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.
“The Only Thing We Have To Fear. . .” Review of Fear: The History of a Political Ideaby Corey Robin and In The Shadow of No Towers by Art Spigelman. Theory and Event. 8:3 (September 2005)
“The Horrors of Neo/Liberalism ” Social Research, 2014
“The Communist Manifesto in an Era of Late-Capital: Melodrama and Melancholia” inThe Cambridge Companion to the Comminist Manifestoeds. Terrell Carver and James Farr. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, under contract).
“The Limits of Neoliberalism: The Wire and the Bounds of Market Rationality” inEverything is Connected: The Politics of HBO’s “The Wire” eds. Shirin Deylami and Jonathan Hovercraft. (London: Routledge, under contract).
“The Melodramatic Style of American Politics” in After The Tears: Victimhood and Subjectivity in the Melodramatic Mode (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2014 expected) eds. Scott Loren and Joerg Mettleman.
“Wendy Brown” in The Encyclopedia of Political Thought eds. Michael Gibbons, Diana Coole, Lisa Ellis (NY: Wiley-Blackwell) in progress, expected 2015.
“Red Alert” Political Theory. Review Essay of Jodi Dean, The Communist Horizon, Slavoj Zizek, The Year of Dreaming Dangerously, Alain Badiou, The Rebirth of History.
Ugly Freedoms New book project on contemporary practices of freedom.
Capitalism and Neoliberalism
Debating Democracy in America
American Political Thought and the Melodramatic Imaginary
Freedom in American Thought and Culture, Upper Division Lecture
Citizenship, Senior Research Seminar
Politics and Film, Undergraduate Lecture
American Political Culture After 9/11, Dean’s Seminar