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Indiana University Bloomington

Rebekah Sheldon

Rebekah Sheldon

Assistant Professor

PhD, City University of New York, Graduate Center, 2010

BA, Rutgers University, 2002

I work in the field of contemporary American literature and culture, with particular emphasis on science and speculative fiction, gender and queer theory, and feminist science studies. My research and teaching bring together the study of subject formation with paradigms drawn from posthuman theory that shift focus to the ecological, embodied, and affective. In both instances, my aim is to interrogate the emerging episteme heralded by the Anthropocene in its differential distributions of gendered, sexed, and racialized valuation and vulnerability.

My first project, Future Harm: Catastrophe and the Figure of the Child in Contemporary America, takes up theses concerns through an examination of the child as a figure in discourses of emergent life and systemic catastrophe, such as postapocalyptic fiction and film, environmental activism, and narratives of sterility, assisted reproduction, and cloning. At its broadest level, this project argues that the child is an especially freighted response to the increasing visibility of nature's vibrant matters in the hyperstimulative environment of late capitalism. In the figure of the child, I argue, these genres express anxiety about and produce a fantasy of containment for the upwelling of liveliness characteristic of the contemporary moment. Ultimately, however, I contend that the child is queerly in excess of the human future it is meant to protect.

My second book project, Affective Futurities, turns away from representational critique in order to theorize speculative methods. In it, I look at the formal, aesthetic, relational and affective dimension of texts and argue that it is through composition, rhythm, gesture, movement, and sound that we may intervene in the future’s forces of resonance, distortion, iteration, and distribution.

In addition to these manuscripts, I have recent or forthcoming publications on the work of feminist science studies scholar Karen Barad, Margaret Atwood’s speculative fictions, object oriented ontology and feminist new materialism, and neoliberal futures in contemporary young adult science fictions. I am also co-editor with Kathryn Bond Stockton and Julian Gill-Peterson of a special issue of GLQ on “The Child Now.”