Date of Award

Fall 12-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Alessandra Raengo

Second Advisor

Jennifer M. Barker

Third Advisor

Ted Friedman

Fourth Advisor

Angelo Restivo

Fifth Advisor

Steven Shaviro


Oblique Optics contends that studies of visual culture must account for the queerness of images. This argument posits images as queer residents within visual culture by asking how and where the queerness of images becomes visible. These questions are interrogated by utilizing queer theories and methods to refigure how the image is conceptualized within traditional approaches to visual culture studies and media studies. Each chapter offers different approaches to see the queerness of images by torquing our vision to see "obliquely," whereby images are located beyond visible surfaces (like pictures or photographs) through ec-static movements within thresholds between bodies and beings.

Chapter One rethinks how images are conceptualized through metaphorical language by exploring how images emerge from fantasies about will-be-born bodies in fetal photographs. This chapter turns to figures of queer children for insight about oblique approaches to visual culture and foregrounds later engagements with aesthetics of failure. Chapter Two considers how aesthetics of failure extend to the visible forms of lacking bodies. The visibility of lack is explored by considering how pixelated vision provides alternative ways to image mastectomy scars in the film The Body Beautiful (1991) and the advertising campaign "Obsessed with Breasts." Chapter Three addresses the visible form and function of cutting within images about Michael Jackson and these images are shown cutting the body toward non-human forms of visibility. Chapter Four expands on this discussion about the non-human by contemplating how the film Air Doll (2009) reveals a visual culture of things, where we not only see things but also see how things see. Finally, Chapter Five turns to digital glitches as a visible form to explore how non-human bodies like the computer produce images beyond human-centric concerns and reveals how the digital is shown to image itself.