Jennifer Doyle

Jennifer Doyle

Ph.D. Duke University

(951) 827-1820

Research and Teaching Areas: American Literary & Cultural Studies, Visual and Performance Studies, Contemporary Art History, Gender Studies, Critical Theory

Jennifer Doyle’s most recent book, Hold It Against Me: Difficulty and Emotion in Contemporary Art (Duke University Press, 2013) explores the idea of difficulty in art, ideologies of emotion, and how emotion circulates in and around art in flows that are directed by histories both personal and political. Drawing from the way the term “difficulty” circulates in poetics and music, Hold It Against Me tackles contemporary artworks, some of which have been intensely controversial. Refusing the discourse of controversy that has framed the reception of artists like Ron Athey and David Wojnarowicz, Doyle re-centers understanding of their work on its emotional complexity, and places it in relation to works by artists like Adrian Howells, Franko B., Carrie Mae Weems, James Luna, and Nao Bustamante.

Sex Objects: Art and the Dialectics of Desire (University of Minnesota Press, 2006) was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Foundation award for writing in art and culture, and received an honorable mention for the Alan Bray Memorial Book Prize (awarded by the queer caucus for the MLA). This work steps back from narratives of repression and prohibition to consider more carefully how and where sex “happens” in art – as well as how discourse on sexuality is deployed in criticism. In chapters on desire and boredom in Moby Dick, women in Warhol’s films, Thomas Eakins’s gender panic, intimacy and Tracey Emin, and Vaginal Davis’s performances as Vanessa Beecroft, Sex Objects offers an alternative to the diagnostic habits of thought that shape writing about art and sexuality in which the art object appears as a concrete symptom of the artist’s sexual identity.

Professor Doyle’s current project (The Athletic Turn) explores the recent and extensive turn toward sports in contemporary art and performance. Surveying provocative instances of the artist’s turn to athletic performance allows us to track the evolving relationship between contemporary art, popular culture and mass media – to follow how artists move across these domains, and bring elements of broadcast culture and also more intimate experience of play into the space of contemporary art.

Her work has appeared in Qui Parle, X-TRA: Contemporary Art Quarterly, Representations, Nineteenth-Century Literature, and in anthologies such as The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader and The Art of Art History.

From 2007-2013, Doyle wrote From A Left Wing, a blog about the cultural politics of soccer. In 2013 she started a new blog, The Sport Spectacle. Her writing on sports has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian,, as well as in Social Text, Cabinet, and World Literature Today.



Hold It Against Me: Difficulty and Emotion in Contemporary Art. Duke University, 2013.
Sex Objects: Art and the Dialectics of Desire. The University of Minnesota Press, 2006.


Editor, The Athletic Issue, a special issue of GLQ (2013).
Co-editor (with Amelia Jones) of New Feminist Theories of Visual Culture, a special issue of Sign. Spring 2006.
Co-editor (with Jonathan Flatley and José Muñoz) of Pop Out: Queer Warhol.  Duke University Press, 1996.


with Eric Morse for Frieze. October 2013.
with Joseph Henry for The Believer Logger. June 2013.


“Blind Spots and Failed Performance: Abortion, Feminism, and Queer Theory” in Qui Parle 18:1 (Fall/Winter2009).
“’Art Versus Sport’: Managing Desire and the Queer Sports Spectacle” in X-TRA: Contemporary Art Quarterly 11:4 (Summer 2009).
“Jo March’s Love Poems” in Nineteenth Century Literature (December 2005)
“Sex, Scandal, and Thomas Eakins’s The Gross Clinic” in Representations (Fall 1999)


Campus Security (Semiotext[e], 2013).
“Listening to the World Cup” in Peter Alegi and Chris Bolsmann eds., The 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Impact and Aftermath (University of Michigan Press, 2013).
“Gender, Media and Desire in the Sport Spectacle” in Erica Suderberg and Ming Yuen S. Ma eds., Resolutions 3 (University of Minnesota Press, 2013).
“Lost and Found” in Cliff Lauson ed., Tracy Emin: Love Is What You Want (London: Hayward Publications, 2011).
“Voici Mon Épée” and “Municipal de Fútbol”, both in Municipal de Fútbol. Textfield, 2008.
“Between Friends,” in George Haggerty and Molly McGarry eds.,The Blackwell Companion to Queer Theory. Blackwell, 2007.
“A Thin Line,” in Giancarlo Ambrosino ed., David Wojnarowicz: A Definitive History of Five or Six Years on the Lower East Side. MIT/Semiotext(e), 2006.
“Queer Wallpaper” in Amelia Jones ed., The Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Art Since 1945.  Blackwell, 2006.
“Critical Tears” in Nicholas Baume, ed., Getting Emotional.  Boston Institute for Contemporary Art, 2005.