The IRW hosts feminist researchers from around the world as Visiting Scholars, enabling them to pursue their own research and writing in a supportive environment while accessing Rutgers’ unique feminist resources. Visiting Scholars participate in the IRW seminar, present public lectures and speak in classes throughout the university.
Victoria Papa (Spring 2024)
"Aesthetics of Survival: Modernist Literature and Minoritarian Worldmaking"
My book project, Aesthetics of Survival: Modernist Literature and Minoritarian Worldmaking, traces an alternative history of modernism and crisis to show how Black, queer, and feminist authors wrote out of the experience of systemic oppression to expand representations of trauma beyond fractured narratives of war and sudden accident. By decentering the major trauma of the World Wars in their literature, these authors, including Langston Hughes, H.D., Djuna Barnes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Lola Ridge, reveal that the aesthetic challenge of representing experience—so fundamental to modern literary consciousness—is as strongly linked to the incremental violence as it is to mass catastrophe. Emphasizing resiliency in the face of oppression, I argue that these writers depict a nuanced order of trauma aligned with pluralistic forms of minoritarian worldmaking. I consider the multivalence of trauma as a form of possession that is not only “a modality of disempowerment but potentially of empowerment and refusal too.” Through transgressive aesthetics that push modernist sensibilities of experimentation to their brink, I argue that the authors of my study bring into form the edge states of precarity, taking possession of their survival through narratives that testify to non-normative modes of being.
Victoria Papa is Assistant Professor of English and Visual Culture at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.