November 20, 2013
“Getting Ahead or Just Staying Afloat?"
In this lecture from his forthcoming book Freedom and Vengeance on Film (I.B. Tauris), Dr. Watkins will speak about how economic crisis becomes ordinary and uncertainty becomes inescapable for too many workers today. Examining the feature film Wendy and Lucy (2008), Watkins argues that the film is captivating for the way in which it addresses and makes visible some of the ways in which economic insecurity is lived in today’s America -- where it’s hard enough just to stay afloat, much less get ahead. Featuring Michele Williams as Wendy whose car breaks down stranding her and her dog in Oregon, the film offers a compelling portrayal of a woman negotiating a set of unchosen circumstances. Watkins argues that Wendy is presented realistically, not as a hero or “free-agent” but rather as someone who adapts and survives, someone who is connected to and dependent on others in ways that today’s economic crisis makes it challenging to sustain.
Robert E. Watkins, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Cultural Studies in the department of Humanities, History, and Social Sciences at Columbia College Chicago. His forthcoming book Freedom and Vengeance on Film: Precarious Lives and the Politics of Subjectivity (I.B. Tauris) brings political theory into conversation with film to examine the reproduction and interruption of the discourses of freedom and vengeance through which we grasp political life.
This event was co-sponsored by