In my research and writing, I investigate how British and American fantasies of the white nuclear family animate both fictional worlds and political imaginaries. From horror stories that invite us to identify with an “innocent” white family besieged by demonic outsiders to the “family values” discourse that gained political traction in the 1980s and 90s, the white nuclear family form organizes dominant narratives about good subjects and desirable futures. But these stories obsess, in turn, about monstrous Others and the bad futures they seemingly portend. My work explores this cross-hatching of white fantasies and nightmares.
I engage with black feminist thought, the black radical tradition, and postcolonial theory to discern the narrative instability and affective unease that ripples through white family stories. Whether it’s zombies and cannibals at The End of the world or the specters that lurk in falling-down houses, I understand the nightmares that haunt white familial fantasies as archiving legacies of dispossession, revolt, and worldly alternatives. So I work to expose the mechanisms of the stories white people tell about families and futures, both to expose their costs—who they dehumanize, who they erase, who they constrain—and to see if they can be rewired. Retold in unexpected ways.
My first book is in the works, and it’s called Undead Ends: On Survivalism and Apocalypse. It’s a very reworked version of the thinking I began with my dissertation, a 300-page treatise on ruined landscapes and gun-in-hand survivalists (because why not?).
My new project, Home Sick, investigates the stories we tell about haunted houses and demonic children. It’s in an early stage, but you can get a sense of the ideas in my “Hauntings” series if you’re interested, and I’m teaching a course at the University of Toronto to test out a few key premises.
I also recently co-edited with Nadine Attewell (McMaster University) a special issue of TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies titled “The Work of Return” (Spring 2016), which you can check out here.
Here’s the info on my published peer-reviewed articles…
“There Goes the Neighbour Hood: On Feral Children and Alien Invaders.” Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies 35 (2016): 65-85.
“‘The unreturning army that was youth’: Social Reproduction and Apocalypse in Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy.” Contemporary Women’s Writing 7.1 (March 2013): 73-91.
“Maternal back/grounds in Children of Men: Notes toward an Arendtian biopolitics.” Biopolitics, edited by Sherryl Vint and Mark Bould, a special issue of Science Fiction Film and Television 4.2 (November 2011): 249-70.
“(White) Rage: Affect, Neoliberalism, and the Family in 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later.” Review of Education, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies 32.3 (July–August 2010): 295-322.
“Playing Peter Pan: Conceptualizing ‘Bois’ in Contemporary Queer Theory.” Canadian Woman Studies 24.2/3 (Winter/Spring 2005): 75-79. Trimble_Playing Peter Pan
One of my early essays — on John Irving’s The World According to Garp — is also in Andrea O’Reilly’s edited collection, Feminist Mothering (SUNY 2008).