Katie Kirkland

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Katie is a PhD candidate in the joint program with Comparative Literature. She earned her B.A in Cinema and Media Studies and English from the University of Chicago, and joined the program in 2017 with an interest in exploring the intersections of performance practice and cinema. 

Her dissertation examines the use of reenactment as an investigative methodology within contemporary experimental documentary practice. Examining work by Trinh T. Minh Ha, Paz Encina, Emily Jacir and the Forensic Architecture Agency, it excavates the way that reenactment’s multilayered temporality and surrogate embodiment enable these documentaries’ political and counter-historical claims, which take shape amidst contexts  of ongoing state violence. Her readings attend, in particular, to these films’ entanglement of intimate experience and collective history and the forms of embodied witnessing they engender. In doing so, they seek to explore how these procedures recast our understanding of documentary’s evidentiary value and political force. 

She has additionally explored these themes in a concurrent research project about Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s unfinished feature film, White Dust From Mongolia, which explores both Cha’s transmedial theorization of cinema and the methodological challenges and possibilities of working with unfinished and fragmentary works. 

Her writing has appeared in publications such as Another Gaze, The New York Review of Books, and BOMB Magazine.

Research interests: Documentary, Reenactment and Performance, Feminist Film Histories, Photography and Visual Archives, Forensics