I am a collaborative thinker, and other people’s thoughts, comments, and
scholarship have inextricably shaped my own. I am deeply grateful to so
many people for making this work possible. My wonderful dissertation
committee at uc Berkeley— Wendy Brown, Linda Williams, and Judith
Butler— nourished the ideas that grew into this book. Wendy has been the
most dedicated and generous advisor possible; she is a model of integrity,
rigor, and compassion. Her work on politics and power opened new horizons
of possibility for me. I simply would not think as I do without her. Linda’s
fantastic class on fi lm theory changed the trajectory of my research. I thank
Linda for introducing me to melodrama, for teaching me the pleasures of
fi lm criticism, and for encouraging me to see how po liti cal theory and fi lm
studies have so much to say to each other. Judith’s intellectual daring and
ethical generosity are an inspiration. I thank Judith for teaching me to think
subtly about violence; to adjudicate the demands of Marx, Foucault, and
Freud; and to have faith in my own work. A special thank you to Shannon
Stimson for her unwavering support of my research, and to the late Michael
Rogin, whose work continues to shape my understanding of American
po liti cal culture.
I’ve had the good fortune to present earlier draft s of book chapters in
lectures and colloquia. For their invitations and discussions, I thank Scott
Loren and Jörg Mettelman at the Universität St. Gallen (and the support
of the embassy of the United States in Switzerland); Lawrie Balfour and
Stephen White at the University of Virginia; Chris Holmes and the Mellon
Working Group at Brown University; Sharon Krause and John Tomasi at
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