Ph.D, University of Iowa
422 C Lowenstein
Margaret Schwartz is Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies. Her work focuses on the problematic of the material and mediation—that is, between objects, bodies, and things, and the ways in which they are meaningfully articulated and circulated in media texts. She considers questions like, “What is experience?” and “What is memory?” from the point of view of media and communication theory.
Most of all, Dr. Schwartz is fascinated with the corpse. A frequent character in fiction as well as world events, the corpse is no longer a person, yet not quite a thing. It appears everywhere, yet it also resists representation, appearing only in glimpses or under exceptional circumstances of trauma. This unique and highly emotional entity is thus the perfect site from which to question the stakes of media images of a very real world.
Dr. Schwartz’s publications, listed below, reflect these research interests. They cover the corpse as cultural object, celebrity bodies in public, and translation as an act of communication ethics. She is also a literary translator, and considers translation the practical counterpart to her theoretical work on representation. Dr. Schwartz’s translation of the seminal Argentine novel Museum of Eterna’s Novel was its first appearance in English.
Currently, Dr. Schwartz is finishing a manuscript titled An Iconography of the Flesh: How Corpses Mean and Matter. In it she argues that corpses only become legible insofar as they are productive of legacies—and thus productive of value in the age of late capitalistic nostalgia. She illustrates the ways in which corpses mean and matter as unique things, able to persist outside of the logic of late capitalism. In this way she suggests a model for a more humane mode of grieving.
Media and Materiality (Spring 2012): This course focuses on the changing status of the flesh in visual culture. From reality television makeover shows, and celebrity “wardrobe malfunctions” to racial politics and public memory for the deceased of 9/11, the body itself has become malleable, plastic, and yet never wholly described by obsessive media portrayals. Cutting across various media, then, we will analyze the cultural and philosophical implications of the postmodern body, which is often digitalized, surgically enhanced, or even discarded in virtual realities. The very physicality of the body— its status as a special kind of object— makes it both ripe for media representation and ever resistant to it. It also is an excellent source of information about the limits and assumptions behind popular views of digital ephemerality
Gender Images and Media (Spring 2010, Fall 2010): This course was taught as both a graduate and an upper-level undergraduate seminar. It surveys main issues in gender studies, feminism, and media studies, moving towards a discussion of gender representation across various media forms, particularly in the postfeminist context.
Introduction to Communication and Media Studies (Fall 2008-): An introductory course for undergraduates. Surveys history of the field as well as various theoretical approaches including ethnography, textual analysis, administrative research and critical theory. Divides the study of communication into the study of audiences, texts, and production.
Theories of Media, Culture and Society: (Fall 2008-): A theories course that is designed as both a mid-level requirement for the major and as an introductory course for students who choose the Media, Culture and Society track. The course reviews key theories and methodologies with an increased emphasis on primary texts and on application of these theories to media texts
and social issues.
Death, Celebrity and Media
Dr. Schwartz's research interests include theorizing the relationship between the material world and the mediated world. She is particularly interested in the mediating rold of the human body as both a physical and a cultural object. She likes to think about how public bodies - of celebrities and other public figures - represent a certain articulation between the real and the imaginary. She is currently finishing a book titled An Iconography of the Flesh: How Corpses Mean and Matter, which analyzeds the death of public figures as moments where the material and the cultural meet, with surprising results.
The Museum of Eterna’s Novel
by Macedonio Fernández, Trans. Margaret Schwartz. Rochester, Open Letter Press, 2010.
ARTICLES and/or BOOK CHAPTERS
“Intimacies of Reading: Translation, Communication, and the Proximate
.” [sic]: A Journal of Literature, Culture, and Literary Translation. www.sic-journal.org.
“The Horror of Something to See: Celebrity ‘Vaginas’ as Prostheses
” in Holmes and Negra, eds. In the Limelight and Under The Microscope: The Forms and Functions of Female Celebrity, Continuum, 2011.
“Proper Corruption: Metaphoric Tension in Photographs of the Embalmed Corpse of Eva Perón
” in Framework Volume 51, Number 3 (Spring 2010). Lead article.
The Museum of Eterna's Novel (The First Good Novel)
. Rochester: Open Letter Press, 2010.
Special Issue on Latin America, Spring 2009.