Disability Aesthetics in Alternative Film Cultures

A blurry side-view of a human shape raising their arm. The image implies kinetics by stacking snapshots of the figure at different points of the movement, signaled by different colors. In chronological order, the red shape shows the arm furthest away from the figure’s head, while the yellow, then green, shapes show the head and arm moving toward the middle of the image until they align next to each other in the blue shape.
Event Date & Time
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Event Location
135 Nicholson Hall

216 Pillsbury Dr. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Please join us for the public portion of PhD Candidate Olga Tchepikova-Treon's dissertation defense, titled "Disability Aesthetics in Alternative Film Cultures". This event will take place online and in person in Nicholson Hall 135. Use the registration link above to register for the Zoom portion.


My dissertation examines the ways disability occurs as an aesthetic, iconic, indexical, and symbolic phenomenon across a wide range of genres, stylistic attributes, and production procedures that fall under the designator “alternative cinema” across the second half of the twentieth century. Focusing on films that are made with consumer-level technologies like super 8, 16mm, or video; films that utilize low-budget creative techniques such as found footage and film collage, location shooting, as well as amateur rather than professional actors, my project discusses the ways these works’ technological and aesthetic setup utilizes bodymind difference as a dominant framework. Ultimately, I propose that alternative films’ occasional reliance on disruption, incompleteness, and defects forms an experimental strategy that counters the caricatures and sentimentalizations of disability that permeate mainstream media.

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