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Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness Paperback – January 30, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“A compelling contribution to scholarship on blackness and visuality, this text provides a heterogeneous yet complimentary sampling of black visual artists who, in method and form, challenge that power-laden visual exchange by exposing their flesh in excess, by making doubly visible the seams holding dominant discourses together, and by celebrating the non-iconic, everyday performances of blackness.”
(Women & Performance)

“In Troubling Vision, Fleetwood effectively engages multiple theories from across disciplines to offer fresh readings of cultural texts that question black visibility. She gives us a new language with which to disrupt narratives of blackness as overdetermined difference, as well as a new way of seeing black subjectivity and the black body in performance and visual culture.”
(Theatre Journal)

“Nicole Fleetwood’s remarkable study alerts us to how troubling enactments like non-iconicity, excess flesh, and the visible seam radically reorient 'the psychic and affective domains of seeing and doing black,' thus revealing new terrain on which to construct political, social, and cultural theories of visual blackness. . . . Troubling Vision should quickly become standard reading for those looking for new insight—and new methods—in black visual and performance studies.”
(Douglas A. Jones, Jr. TDR: the drama review)

"Fleetwood persuasively navigates the spaces between visual studies, psychoanalytic theory, performance theory, feminist theory, and black cultural studies to produce a remarkable analysis of black subjectivity and visuality in our contemporary moment."

“What kind of fetish is the black body, and how do traditional logics of racial visibility reproduce its ‘troubling’ presence across representational genres and pop cultural forms? Nicole Fleetwood has crafted a truly powerful and compellingly interdisciplinary answer to those interconnected questions, recalibrating and superseding age-old debates about the politics and poetics of visual culture. Troubling Vision demonstrates how visual and other artists—photographers and playwrights, performance artists and pop singers—confound the tropes of pathology that have long prefigured and overdetermined views of blackness as conspicuous difference. This very readable and theoretically sophisticated book focuses on some of the ways in which black artists resist the too-easy lure of self-evident iconicity, leaving subtle and not so subtle traces of the hard work that debunking racist stereotypes entails. Fleetwood’s offering is smart, at times quite personal, even moving, and a must-read for scholars working at the nexus of race and performativity, African American studies, and visual theory.”
(John L. Jackson Jr. University of Pennsylvania)

Troubling Vision contributes vitally to new work in visual and performance studies as well as black popular culture. The book’s sophisticated renderings of blackness reveal the significance of seeing in feminist media, photographs, and fashion from the Harlem Renaissance to Michael Jackson. A fascinating study!”

(Jennifer Brody Duke University)

"Nicole Fleetwood’s Troubling Vision is a fascinating study of black visuality and contributes greatly to the fields of performance, visual, and critical race studies . . . .Troubling Vision [is] aesthetically seductive and theoretically smart."
(Joshua Javier Guzmán E-misférica)

About the Author

Nicole R. Fleetwood is assistant professor of American studies at Rutgers University and an art consultant who has worked with numerous museums and art institutions.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (January 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226253031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226253039
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nicole R. Fleetwood teaches in American Studies at Rutgers University where she also directs the Institute for Research on Women.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sussu on April 9, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Troubling vision" is an insightful and wide-ranging work of impeccable scholarship. It is accessible to readers outside academia, while it grapples with complex, highly theoretical concepts. Fleetwood analyzes visuality and blackness in popular music, conceptual art as well as family and neighborhood portraiture and other forms of cultural production. It is specifically this great breadth of material that illustrates the reach of her concepts. While showing how our vision is troubled and troubling, she suggests and discovers strategies of survival and subversion, and never loses sight of the whole while she examines the particulars. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in issues of perception and projection, and of race and class. In fact, I feel that everyone who thinks they know what they think about these issues, should read Fleetwood's book. She probes gently and insistently, requesting that the reader study the artists she discusses as nakedly as some of them perform.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Profedeambiente on June 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality and Blackness is a provocative and timely meditation on the how black subjects of cultural production trouble visual discourse and how black cultural producers negotiate, re-imagine and transform ways of seeing and being seen in different visual mediums. It is clear, well-written and presents a eclectic archive that is illuminated though its assemblage. By moving beyond any single medium or visual genre, the author is able to articulate how visual tropes of blackness circulate across different visual fields, while never losing sight of the unique visual logics of the various mediums she examines. The book will certainly be of interest to scholars of African-American and African diaspora studies, feminist and transnational media studies, visual studies, popular culture and art history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By onlinej on February 1, 2014
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Teaching this in my current doctoral seminar on African American visual aesthetics. Really glad I chose it to teach even before I'd finished reading all of it. Smart, insightful, lucid.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By North Star on January 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
A thoughtful, wonderfully written and researched book. Fleetwood uses theory and personal experience in ways that make the book accessible and interesting.
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