About Me

I serve as assistant professor of twentieth- and twenty-first-century American fiction and film at New Mexico State University. I hold a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature, with a Graduate Certificate in Gender and Sexuality Studies, from the University of Chicago. From 2013 to 2017 I was a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellow, and from 2016 to 2018 a Residential Fellow in the University of Chicago’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.

My areas of research include twentieth- and twenty-first-century North American screen, performance, and literary cultures; autobiography and self-documentation; queer, trans, and feminist aesthetics, theory, and history; ecology; critical theories of embodiment and experience, and French continental philosophy.

Breathing Aesthetics

I’m working on a book titled “Breathing Aesthetics.” The air and the act of breathing have become loci of raced, classed, and gendered injury, as seen in the rise of biological warfare, the new epidemiologies of respiratory afflictions like asthma, allergies, and environmental illnesses, and the popularization of the phrase “I can’t breathe” following the 2014 murder by chokehold of Eric Garner. At the same time, the rarity of pure air under pollution has led to its unprecedented valuation and turned breathing into a luxury activity. I argue that breathing, at a historical moment when the air can no longer be taken for granted, has emerged as a medium for configuring embodiment and experience from openness and vulnerability. “Breathing Aesthetics” spans North American screen, performance, and literary cultures to show how breathing has inspired concepts that articulate the interplay of bodies and milieus under attrition. Combining the methods and insights of feminist, queer, disability, environmental, ethnic, and critical race studies with those of media, film, and literary studies, this book situates theories of embodiment in processes of mediation (ecology, individuation, phenomenology), in addition to conceptualizing individual and group experience in the margin of political theory’s traditional foci on speech and action.

An excerpt from the book, titled “Aesthetic Self-Medication: Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose’s Structures of Breathing,” has appeared in Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory. I have also edited a special issue of New Review of Film and Television Studies titled “Breath: Image and Sound.” The open-access introduction is available here.

My email address is tremblay [at] nmsu [dot] edu. I tweet as @jthomastremblay. My institutional profile is available here.