Master’s Program in Aesthetics and Politics

Visiting Faculty

Each academic year, the MA program is hosting a scholar or artist to teach one graduate seminar, either in the Fall or in the Spring semester.

About the Position

Visiting Faculty are generally scholars and/or artists working in areas not currently covered in the program curriculum. They teach a graduate course addressing the intersection of aesthetic and political questions and are expected to actively participate in the life of the program. When possible, they are invited to curate one MA program event, or present their work at REDCAT or as part of our various lecture series.


Stephen Wright

Stephen Wright is an art writer and professor of the practice of theory at the European School of Visual Arts, where he is Academic Advisor to the PhD-level research program Documents and Contemporary Art. His writing has focused primarily on the politics of usership, particularly in contexts of collaborative, extradisciplinary practices with variable coefficients of art. His current research deals above all with the ongoing usological turn, and current forms of contemporary escapology, in the fields of art and epistemology, examining the conditions of possibility and use of practices which have deliberately withdrawn from the event horizon, necessitating a fundamental reconsideration and repurposing of the conceptual architecture and vocabulary inherited from modernity. In 2013, he published Toward a Lexicon of Usership, and in 2016 shadow-curated Making Use at the Warsaw Museum of Contemporary Art. He is currently preparing a book-length essay, Not, Not Art, on usership-generated and usership-oriented practices and a theoretical companion volume, Politics of Usership. He lives on Salt Spring Island in the Pacific Ocean.

In 2016-17, Stephen is leading an MA seminar on “The Aesthetics and Politics of Usership.”



Armen Avanessian (Fall 2015)

Armen Avanessian studied philosophy and political science in Vienna and Paris. After completing his dissertation in literature, he worked at the Free University Berlin from 2007-2014. He has previously been a Visiting Fellow in the German Department at Columbia University and in the German Department at Yale University and visiting professor at various art academies in Vienna, Nuremberg and Basel. He is editor in chief at Merve Verlag Berlin. In 2012 he founded a bilingual research platform on Speculative Poetics, including a series of events, translations, and publications: 

For a quick intro to Armen's course, check  


Travis Wilkerson

A chance meeting in Havana with legendary Cuban film propagandist Santiago Alvarez changed the course of Travis Wilkerson's life. He now makes films in the tradition of the "third cinema," wedding politics to form in an indivisible manner. His films have screened at scores of venues and festivals worldwide, including Sundance, Toronto, Locarno, Rotterdam, Vienna, Yamagata, the FID Marseille and the Musée du Louvre. His best-known work is an agit-prop essay on the lynching of Wobbly Frank Little called "An Injury to One," named one of the best avant-garde films of the decade by Film Comment. His other films include “Accelerated Underdevelopment” (on the filmmaker Santiago Alvarez), the narrative feature “Who Killed Cock Robin?” and the National Archive series. In 2007, he presented the first ever performance art at the Sundance Film Festival with Proving Ground, a live multi-media rumination on the history of bombing described as “one of the most daring experiments in the history of Sundance.” A recent feature, “Distinguished Flying Cross,” was honored with prestigious jury prizes both at Cinema du reel and Yamagata. He also contributed short segments to two omnibus projects: “Far From Afghanistan,” and Orbit (films). His new film: “Los Angeles Red Squad,” premiered in the main competition at FIDMarseille and will have its North American premiere at the New York Film Festival, as a part of “Views from the Avant Garde.” His writings on film have appeared in Cineaste, Kino!, and Senses of Cinema. He has taught filmmaking at the University of Colorado, CalArts, and Pomona College.

In Fall 2013, Travis will be teaching the MA program core course Critical Discourse in the Arts and the Media.



Rita Gonzalez

Rita is Associate Curator in the Department of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Gonzalez’s curatorial collaboration with filmmaker Jesse Lerner, Mexperimental Cinema, was the first survey of experimental and avant-garde media art from Mexico and traveled to the Pacific Film Archives; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Harvard Film Archives; the Guggenheim Museums (New York and Bilbao), and film festivals internationally. From 1997-1999, she was the Lila Wallace Curatorial Intern at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. At MCA San Diego, she worked on numerous exhibitions, lectures and film programs, as well as serving as curatorial coordinator for William Kentridge: Weighing and Wanting. Together with film scholar Norma Iglesias, she curated a film and video series for inSITE 2000. Gonzalez co-curated the 2006 California Biennial and Adria Julia: La Villa Basque at the Orange County Museum of Art, 20 Years Ago Today at the Japanese American National Museum, and the traveling exhibition Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement for LACMA. As part of the Getty initiative Pacific Standard Time, she co-curated with C. Ondine Chavoya, Asco: Elite of the Obscure, the first retrospective exhibition about the Los Angeles-based conceptual art and performance group.

In the Fall 2012, Rita taught a course exploring current conversations and debates driving the contemporary art curatorial field.   


Kate Elswit

Kate Elswit is an academic and dancer whose research on performing bodies combines cultural analysis, dance history, performance theory, German studies, and experimental practice. Before receiving her PhD in German from the University of Cambridge, she completed an MA in European Dance Theatre Practice at Laban, and undergraduate degrees in Dance and Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University. She came to Stanford University in 2009 as a postdoctoral fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities, and has taught courses listed in the departments of Drama, German Studies, Art History, and in the Dance Division. Between 2006-2009, Kate taught practical and theoretical courses in the graduate school at Laban, as well as interdisciplinary undergraduate topics at the University of Cambridge. She was also on the commission for MA Solo/Dance/Authorship, Germany’s first practice-led masters degree in dance.

Kate’s publications have received two major awards for scholarship: her TDR:The Drama Review article “Berlin . . . Your Dance Partner is Death” won the Gertrude Lippincott Award from the Society of Dance History Scholars for the best English-language article published in dance studies in 2009, and her Modern Drama article “The Some of the Parts: Prosthesis and Function in Bertolt Brecht, Oskar Schlemmer, and Kurt Jooss” won the Sally Banes Publication Prize from the American Society for Theatre Research for the best book or essay to explore the intersections of theatre and dance/movement between 2007-2008. Other articles have appeared in Performance Research and Art Journal, and a new essay is forthcoming in the edited collection New German Dance Studies from University of Illinois Press. Her current book project Watching Weimar Dance (under contract with Oxford University Press) concerns physicality and meaning-making at the intersections of dance and Weimar culture, focusing on Valeska Gert, Oskar Schlemmer, Kurt Jooss, Anita Berber, Mary Wigman, and the Tiller Girls. She is also interested in issues of engaged spectatorship, historical retrieval, contemporary European performance, and exile. 

As a practitioner, Kate is committed to multiple possibilities, both implicit and explicit, for working between the critical and creative. She has danced professionally for companies including Lucky Plush Productions, Hedwig Dances, and Compagnie Felix Ruckert, and her choreographic work has appeared in solo performances and festivals in the USA and Europe. As artistic director of Something Modern, she is invested not only in making performances, but also in developing conversations through projects of curation and dramaturgy. She is on the editorial board for Dance Theatre Journal

In the Spring 2012 semester, Kate taught a graduate seminar titled "Bodies Watching Bodies: Participation, Spectatorship, and the Ethics of Witnessing". She also hosted a talk by Nicholas Ridout.

2010-2011 (Visiting Lecturer)

The Visiting Lecturer position no longer exists. During the 2010-2011 academic year, it was held by Matthew McGarvey. 

Matthew McGarvey

Matt McGarvey does interdisciplinary theoretical work in the fields of music, art, philosophy, cognitive science and political theory; he also makes sound and video constructions. He received his M.A. in philosophy from Villanova University, and is currently completing his Ph.D. in the Critical Studies and Experimental Practices program in the Department of Music at the University of California, San Diego. His current research deals with a set of inter-related topics. First, he is involved in a synthesis of ecological cognitive scientific theories of perception with post-structuralist analyses of the influence of social praxis upon bodily behavior. In this regard he hopes to show concretely how social practices, as well as technologies and architectures, play a formative role in the immediate patterns of perception, while at the time demonstrating the systematic exclusion of this social and political dimension from scientific discourse. In general, he seeks to integrate these insights into a larger aesthetic theory derived from Theodor Adorno and Gilles Deleuze; in particular, he is investigating specific aesthetic practices revolving around ambient stimuli in social space, including both “practical” modulations of sound and light by advertising and police agencies, and the varied “artistic” practices leading through soundscape art to ambient electronica. His sound and video work have been shown in galleries in Los Angeles and Rotterdam. 

In the Fall 2010 semester, Matt taught an MA elective course titled "20th Century Theory". He also presented his work at Theory Tuesdays. 

Last edited by adeboever on Dec 12, 2016
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