If it is with irony, then it is also with real gratitude that I begin these ac-
knowledgments for a book called Obstruction by saluting two people, Robert
and Helen Appel, who helped to dislodge a signal, potential blockage to my
sustained work on the project: the loss of time to other obligations. Receiving
an Appel Fellowship for Humanists and Social Scientists in 2012, I used the
leave time in 2013 that the fellowship a=orded to accomplish a great deal of
the research, thinking, and writing expressed in the pages that follow.
Though time away from Cornell proved useful in a late- ish phase of the
book’s construction, so, too, did the conversations at Cornell that helped me
to figure out that I was writing this book, and how and why it might matter, in
a much earlier, more porous stage of Obstruction’s percolation. Amy Villarejo
demonstrated typical, and typically beatific, patience as I came up with—and,
through many conversations with her, came to discard—dozens of ideas that
had to be both entertained and jettisoned as I set to work in a form that, well,
works. Sara Warner inspired and encouraged me to take the particular kinds
of risks that tenure ought to a=ord, as well as to trust that my feminist and
queer commitments would remain evident despite the riskier, weirder aims
to which I fastened them and in the service of which I contorted and recon-
torted them. Masha Raskolnikov reminded me more vividly and poignantly
than anyone else (could) how “the nineties” felt when we were inside that
formation and how to think about that feeling now. Sabine Haenni helped
me to let go of the nagging worry that coming “late” to writing profession-
ally about cinema would harm the e=ort. Jeremy Braddock supplied some
thrilling book recommendations and sanguine beverage time to accompany
them. Tim Murray made possible a strange, fun Shanghai trip that taught me,
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