Marking Thoughts in Time: Duchenne, Photography, and the Face

Monica Huerta is currently in her second year as a Provost’s Postdoctoral Associate at Duke. She works primarily in nineteenth century cultural and literary studies, especially at the intersection of law, science, and photography. Her first manuscript, The Evidence of Things Unseen: Involuntary Expressions and the Making of Modern Personhood argues that modern personhood and its legal right to privacy came to depend upon new understandings of personal expression, including all the involuntary and fleeting gestures that photography finally could capture on film. Through readings of studies of facial expressions, novels, slave narratives, acting manuals, legal cases about photography, and early psychoanalytic texts, the manuscript situates the right to privacy in a larger history, which also subsequently sheds light on the emergence of notions of aesthetic production, and on the processes by which the involuntary and unintentional became a locus of authenticity.