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Dixon Li

Dixon Li

I am a first-year graduate student in English at the University of Pennsylvania with training as a cultural critic, continental philosopher, poet, dancer, performance maker, and healer (yoga & death doula). I graduated from Princeton University in 2014 with a BA in English (summa cum laude, phi beta kappa) and minors in African-American Studies & American Studies. From 2014-2016 I was a Marshall Scholar in London where I completed MA's in Writing in the Modern age at Queen Mary (2015) and an MA in Performance Making at Goldsmiths (2016). At Penn I am pursuing graduate certificates in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies & Cinema Studies. I work primarily in the 20th and 21st centuries and specialize in critical race studies, poetry & poetics, performance studies, dance, film studies, psychoanalytic theory, continental philosophy, postcolonialism, aesthetics, and queer and feminist theories. 

My dissertation project, tentatively titled "Contingencies of the Corporeal: Stray Affects, Common Flesh, and Racial Swell" focuses broadly on four lines of inquiry at the intersection of theory and comparative critical race studies: 1) querying why notions of moral obligation and reparation after colonialism center primarily on Israel and the Holocaust with little attention paid to African, Asian, and indigenous populations of the Americas 2) an imperial triangle of black-yellow-brown in the Americas that informs affective, epistemological, and aesthetic formations of racial subjectivity from the late 19th century to the 21st century 3) a theory of found affect and grammars of futurity 4) shared comportments. 

A second project thinks about transnational dying and mourning at a distance. What is it about dying that scares yet fascinates us so much? Does thinking about dying bring us closer or farther away from life's disappearence--our own as well as others? What does it mean to hold space terestrially or psychically for a good death, or even death at all, in a world of migration, digitization, and increasing biopolitical control? How does the work of mourning, or the disavowal of mourning's necessity, structure the experience of time, space, language, the self, & others? How do we mourn, and mourn in, disappearing ecologies? How do the racial politics and colonial agendas of Post-Holocaust global mourning determine how we mourn and whose death gets remembered? 

Previous writing projects have included a study of skin in the works of Toni Morrison, Theresa Cha, & Beyoncé Knowles; Larry Eigner & architecture; corporeal rhetoric and poetics in Israel/Palestine; entanglement as ethics and method in performance making; and genres of desire. Most recently I have performed in and/or created performance pieces for OpenFlr (Florence, 2016), The Master's Festival Goldsmiths University (London, 2016), Festival Danse Directe Butoh (Normandy, 2015), and Claudia Castellucci's 'Essercitazione Ritmiche' in the Venice Biennale (Venice, 2015). In the summer of 2018 I will choreograph for Delaware Shakespeare's production of Much ado about nothing. I co-coordinate the English Department's Gender and Sexuality reading group for the 2018-2019 academic year.