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Monica Huerta, Postdoctoral Associate

Monica HuertaContact Info

Office Location:  East Duke Building
Office Phone:   (919) 684-5863
Email Address:
Web Page:  

Research Interests:

While at Duke, I am pursuing two related but distinct projects that grow out of my dissertation research. One is what I am calling a cultural history of the involuntary. In it, I want to explore the construction of the modern category "personality" through the varying value placed on involuntary facial expressions in law, literature, science and medicine, theatre, photography, and early film. I imagine this project as an expansive synthesis of how our involuntary actions, gestures, and expressions become the carriers for what we call "personality," where who we are is determined - paradoxically but precisely - by what we do not and cannot control. The second project, a visual history of emotions, grows out of my work on photographic studies of facial expressions. This manuscript will analyze how visual technologies have helped to shape not only which emotions we believe we can detect on a face, but our understanding of what emotions are. I imagine a broad historical scope for this project, perhaps beginning with Descartes' study of the passions and ending with facial recognition software and social psychologist's debates around the methods of Paul Ekman's work, which draw directly from Darwin's Expressions of Emotions in Man and Animal.

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