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Charlotte Kent

Assistant Professor, Art and Design

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CHARLOTTE KENT, PhD is Assistant Professor of Visual Culture in the Department of Art and Design at Montclair State University. She received her PhD in Comparative Literature (CUNY Graduate Center), with a certificate in critical theory. Her dissertation focused on the narratives and rhetoric of art writing, with grant funded research at Tate Modern, to contextualize the problematics of the Homeland Security Agency’s claim “if you see something, say something.” Currently, she is co-editing a collection on the absurd in contemporary art and speculative design. Beyond scholarly contributions to essay collections and journals, she writes reviews and essays for arts magazines. In 2019-2020, she was the Guest Editor for the Creative Research Center, producing a series of posts on the topic of Collaboration.

As a visual culture theorist, I bring interdisciplinary approaches to contemporary art and cultural artefacts. With a background in aesthetics and the history of ideas, as well as deconstruction and narrative theory, I analyze the power structures surrounding the discourse of art. By gathering agonistic orientations, I examine what opportunities they reveal and challenges they present. Disrupting established contexts brought me to the work of cultural studies, particularly Raymond Williams’ notion of structures of feeling. I look at the 1970s as a pivot into our neoliberal, post-capitalist contemporary, to better understand the shift into a new set of politics framed as an age of instantaneous information. That information is controlled by tech giants, heralded by progressive utopic discourses that are unsuccessfully disputed by nihilistic positions.

My scholarly interest lies in the politics associated with the collapsing of time launched partly by digital artefacts from the 1970s and the subsequent digital revolution. Digital art may have a cultural history, but one limited to a near past, situated as derivative of a ubiquitous now. History broadens analytic reflections and contextualize current concerns. I am particularly interested in the shifting nature of the person in the public sphere, particularly as it influences the rise of the individual as a notion molded by neoliberalism––with consideration of how the figure of the artist and iconoclast get shaped into cultural producers.

My current research investigates how contemporary artists and speculative designers (often working in or responding to) the digital realm adopt the absurd to counter the pernicious institutionalization of political beliefs.


Visual culture, history of aesthetics, history of ekphrasis, narrative theory, deconstruction, critical theory, art writing, digital culture, surrealism, absurd,


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