The department of Romance Studies plays a key role in defining the growth of Visual Studies research and teaching at Duke. Our department contributes perhaps most importantly by countering two all too common traps in this exciting field: presentism and Eurocentrism. From a course on “Dante and the Afterlife of the Book: From the Digits of Scribes to the Digital” to a seminar on contemporary theories of visual culture from Latin America, our research and teaching expands the field backward and forward in time and across the hierarchies that shape the geopolitics of knowledge according to old colonial maps. Avant-garde cinema from transnational Surrealism to the late work of Jean-Luc Godard exploring the digital media share the academic stage with queer, Latina performace artist Nao Bustamante, as well as projections of French soccer champion Zinedine Zidane onto the Arc de Triomphe. Research and teaching in film, media, and visual studies in Romance Studies are grounded in broad theoretical concerns about modernity, coloniality, and postmodernity; representation, figuration, and abstraction; politics, ethics, and aesthetics; new technologies in text and image; race, gender, and visuality; and globalization and culture. It is only right, given the intellectual and artistic traditions at the core of the department, that we enjoy the presence of prominent practitioner-theorists such as Ariel Dorfman and Anne Garréta among our faculty, and scholars who publish in mainstream mass media as well as analyze its products. Faculty members curate and collaborate with contemporary artists and practitioners as much as they write about their work. They also collaborate with Duke Visual Studies Initiative and Program in Arts of the Moving Image.
We welcome applications for PhD students interested in working in these areas, and encourage interested applicants to contact directly the faculty members most relevant to their research.