Monica Huerta is an assistant professor of English and American Studies. Her work exposes the aesthetic life of power in the U. S. using methods from visual culture studies, especially photography criticism, studies of race and ethnicity, and law & humanities approaches.
Her first book, Magical Habits (Duke University Press, 2021), is a critical experiment that engages theories of storytelling, knowledge-making, and archives as seen from a childhood shaped by Chicago’s Mexican restaurants. Magical Habits is part of the new Writing Matters! series, a Duke University Press Scholars of Color First Book Award recipient, deemed a “striking debut” by the New York Times Book Review, and has been widely reviewed, including in ASAP/Journal, Los Angeles Review of Books, MELUS, and Lateral Journal. Her forthcoming book, The Unintended: Photography, Property, and the Aesthetics of Racial Capitalism (NYU Press, forthcoming 2023) is part of the America and the Long 19th Century series edited by David Kazanjian, Elizabeth McHenry, and Priscilla Wald. The Unintended uses questions generated by studies of racial capitalism to attune to an aesthetics of whiteness that instantiates property rights in images in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her next evolving research project, Face Poetics, brings the long histories of studying faces in the sciences, visual and performance art, and fiction to bear on the surveilling impulse toward facial recognition technologies, despite their many and well-documented limitations.
Her work has appeared or will appear in J19: The Journal for Nineteenth-Century Americanists, ArtForum, Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, Los Angeles Review of Books, The New Rambler Review, Critical Analysis of Law: An International and Interdisciplinary Law Review, Contemporaries, and American Literature.
Alongside her research, she helps organize a series of Women* of Color Student-Faculty Corners through Rocky College open to all WOC* students. Most recently, with Dr. Autumn Womack — a scholar of 19th century African American literature and culture, and an assistant professor of African-American Studies and English at Princeton — they co-founded and now co-direct “Organizing Stories: Toward a Scholarly-Activist Praxis.” The Organizing Stories team seeks to connect students with veteran organizers who use storytelling, broadly-conceived, in their organizing work.