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Valerie Hartouni

Professor Emerita and Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award

Professor Hartouni’s research has developed along three fronts.  Situated at the intersection of feminist, cultural, and science studies, her early research focused specifically on the disruptive cultural impact of “new” reproductive and genetic technologies.  This early research examined the ways in which medical, legal, scientific, and popular discourses mobilized to domesticate these new technologies while containing their radical challenge to foundational categories and practices of life.  Essays on abortion, fetal personhood, surrogacy, cloning, and infertility are linked and anchored thematically by an interest in the critically important role played by visualizing practices, on the one hand, and the law, on the other, in shaping the high-stakes cultural struggle over the making of subjects and social reality. On material related to this aspect of Hartouni’s work see Cultural Conceptions: On Reproductive Technologies and the Remaking of Life.

Additionally, Professor Hartouni’s research features a more direct engagement with the fields of political theory, legal theory, and history.  While still concerned, centrally, with the operation and power of visual rhetoric, this work addresses contemporary political practices and processes in a post 9.11 world that are marshalled to sustain and even enhance life even as they consume and efface it. On material related to this aspect of Hartouni’s work see Visualizing Atrocity: Arendt, Evil, and the Optics of Thoughtlessness and Spectacles of Truth-Telling (in progress).

Finally, Professor Hartouni has been pursuing a more literary project on practices of dying.  Specifically, she has been interested in exploring some of the ways in which modern death is both staged and enacted as a particular kind of performance, structured according to certain plot devices that render it most one’s own and most not. On material related to this aspect of Hartouni’s work see Bringing the Dead Back to Life (in progress).

Ph.D. in History of Consciousness, University of California, Santa Cruz (1987)

  • Visualizing Atrocity: Arendt, Evil, and the Optics of Thoughtlessness, (NY: New York University Press, 2012)
  • Cultural Conceptions: On Reproductive Technologies and the Remaking of Life (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997)
  • “Effacing the Body: Producing a Peaceful Death,” Trivia: Voices of Feminism, Special Issue on Death, ed Monica Casper and Linda Van Leuvan, Fall 2012.                
  • “The Neural Subject in Popular Culture and the ‘End of Life’” with Etienne Pelaprat, Configurations 19:385-406 (2012)
  • “Neural Life and Death in Popular Culture: The Biopolitics of the End of Life Subject” (co-authored with Etienne Pelaprat), Activist Media and Biopolitics, ed Wolfgang Sützl and Theo Hug, (Innsbruck Austria: Universität Innsbruck Press,, 2012).

Undergraduate Courses

  • Concepts of Freedom: Media, Publics, and the State (w/ N. Roudakova)
  • What is Called Freedom?
  • Greek Tragedy: Enacting the Political
  • Communication and the Law: The Body in Law
  • The 1960s and the Crisis of Culture: Political Rhetoric and Possibility
  • the 1960s and the Crisis of Culture: The ‘New’ Jounralism
  • Seminar in Critical Theory: The Frankfurt School;
  • Proseminar in Critical Gender Studies: Women and Health

Graduate Courses

  • The Theories and Practices of Cultural Studies
  • Core Seminar in Communication and Culture
  • Feminist Theory and Methods
  • Enlightenment/Counter-Enlightenment (two-quarter seminar with R. Horwitz)
  • The Writings of Hannah Arendt
  • The Writings of Michel Foucault
  • Politics and Fear