About Vidhu Aggarwal, Ph.D.

Vidhu Aggarwal, Ph.DVidhu Aggarwal is an Associate Professor of English (2005; 2011). She earned her B.A. from the University of Chicago, and both her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. Professor Aggarwal’s field is contemporary and modernist poetry and poetics, with specialties in visual culture and Anglophone literatures. Her poetry and photo-text works have appeared in a number of journals.

Poetics of the Perverse

Kapsul 2


(hosted at kapsul.org)

For this module for Project Mosaic: Legacies questions of identity, public, memory, and performance linked to community and self are central to my concerns.  Dioramas are a 19th century theatrical form repurposed in the 20th century as an educational tool for presentations in grade schools. The miniature form serves as a model for historical events, sacred landscapes, and revered literature recreating those bygone actions, sites, and texts while at the same time altering them.

In “Poetics of the Perverse,” an undergraduate class project, college students repurpose the diorama model highlighting the instability and mobility of desire linked to identity in the 21st century.  The project embraces the idea that identity is multi-scaled, pixelleted and highly transmittable in the majority/minority reality of our global future.  By applying childhood crafting materials (play dough, shoe boxes, cotton balls) to texts that engage with conflicted desires and sexuality, participants embody “the perverse,” at the vexed border of adult/child, other/self, and consumer/maker, rather than simply illustrate a seminal event or a bygone moment.

Dr. Vidhu Aggarwal




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