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Nicholas A de Villiers


English | College of Arts & Sciences

Areas of Expertise

Film Theory, Gender Studies, Philosophy, Queer Theory, Autobiography


University of Minnesota 2004 PhD (Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society)

University of Minnesota 1999 MA (Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society)

Bard College 1997 BA (Literature, Gender Studies)

Simon’s Rock College of Bard 1995 AA


Editorial board member of the journal SCREEN BODIES.


Editorial board member of the journal BARTHES STUDIES.


2013 Opacity and the Closet (book) awarded Choice Outstanding Academic Title


Modern Language Association, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Asian Cinema Studies Society

Grants and Contracts Awarded

2017 Taiwan Ministry of Science and Technology Grant: National Central University Center for the Study of Sexualities (visiting scholar, sabbatical Fall 2017)

2016 Florida Blue Ethics Fellow

UNF International Faculty Travel Grant (for travel to China, Summer 2011), 2010

Publications & Presentations



2017    Sexography: Sex Work in Documentary. University of Minnesota Press.


2012    Opacity and the Closet: Queer Tactics in Foucault, Barthes, and Warhol. University of Minnesota Press.

Reviewed in Lambda Literary, New Books in Critical Theory, French Studies, H-France Review, Lambda Nordica, and Modern & Contemporary France; awarded Choice Outstanding Academic Title.



Book Chapters:


2017    “For/Against Homoeroticism: Posing Difficulty for the Habitual Decoders of Desire.” Queer Difficulty in Art and Poetry: Rethinking the Sexed Body in Verse and Visual Culture, edited by Christopher Reed and Jongwoo Jeremy Kim, Routledge, pp. 107–19.


2017    “Drag.” Gender: Laughter (Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks), edited by Bettina Papenburg, Macmillan Reference USA, pp. 263–78.


2011    “Metahorror: Sequels, ‘The Rules,’ and the Metareferential Turn in Contemporary Horror Cinema.” The Metareferential Turn: Forms, Functions, Attempts at Explanation, edited by Werner Wolf, Rodopi, pp. 357–77.



Refereed Journal Articles:


2016    “Readymade Mao: Impersonation and Affective Relations” (co-authored with Yongan Wu). positions: asia critique, vol. 24, no. 4: 789–812.


2016    “Rebooting Trafficking.” Anti-Trafficking Review, no. 7, pp. 161–181,


2015    “Incorporating the Medical Gaze in Queer and Transgender Life Writing.” The Writing Instructor, “Queer and Now” (special issue),


2015    “Afterthoughts on Queer Opacity.” InVisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture,


2013    “Spatial and Sexual Disorientation in the Films of Tsai Ming-liang.” International Academic Forum Journal of Literature & Librarianship, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 67–76.


2012    “RuPaul’s Drag Race as Meta-Reality Television.” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, no. 54,


2011    “Queer Memoir, Queer Space: Samuel R. Delany’s Times Square Red, Times Square Blue.” Transformations, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 96–108.


2011    “‘Chinese Cheers’: Hou Hsiao-hsien and Transnational Homage.” Senses of Cinema, no. 58,“chinese-cheers”-hou-hsiao-hsien-and-transnational-homage/.


2009    “Confessions of a Masked Philosopher: Anonymity and Identification in Foucault and Guibert.” Symploke, vol. 16, no. 1–2, pp. 75–91.


2009    “Documentary and the Anamnesis of Queer Space: The Polymath, or, The Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman.” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, no. 51,


2008    “Leaving the Cinema: Metacinematic Cruising in Tsai Ming-liang’s Goodbye, Dragon Inn.” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, no. 50,


2007    “We Are the World Cinema: Chacun son cinéma.” Senses of Cinema, no. 45,


2007    “Glancing, Cruising, Staring: Queer Ways of Looking.” Bright Lights Film Journal, no. 57,


2007    “How Much Does it Cost for Cinema to Tell the Truth of Sex? Cinéma vérité and sexography.” Sexualities, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 341–61.


2007    “‘The vanguard—and the most articulate audience’: Queer Camp, Jack Smith and John Waters” (guest article). Forum, no. 4,


2005    “Unseen Warhol/Seeing Barthes.” Paragraph: A Journal of Modern Critical Theory, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 21–35.


2004    “The Retrospective Closet-effect: Jean Cocteau and Roland Barthes.” French Studies Bulletin (FSB) vol. 1, no. 93, pp. 14–20.


2004    “The Reception of Roland Barthes: The Question of the Closet.” FSB vol. 1, no. 92, pp. 17–21.



Book Reviews:


2014    “Writing Toward a Book on Proust.” Review of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s The Weather in Proust. Cultural Critique, no. 85, pp. 221–27.


2012    “Love in a Hopeless Place.” Review of Lauren Berlant’s Cruel Optimism. Cultural Critique, no. 82, pp. 195–202.


2010    Review of David M. Halperin’s What Do Gay Men Want? An Essay on Sex, Risk, and Subjectivity. Sexualities, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 126–27.


2007    “Queer Archives.” Review of Judith Halberstam’s In a Queer Time & Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives. Cultural Critique, no. 66, pp. 179–83.


2005    “A Great ‘Pedagogy’ of Nuance: Roland Barthes’s The Neutral.Theory & Event, vol. 8, no. 4,





Manuscripts in Preparation:


2017    Sleepy, Cruisy, Melancholy: Sexual and Spatial Disorientation in the Films of Tsai Ming-liang. [book project]



Other Publications:


2014    “Ruvisionary History,” in conjunction with Linda Simpson’s “The Drag Explosion—Expanded!”


2012    “That’s the Surprise: Tom Rubnitz’s Sexy, Wiggy, Desserty World.” Dirty Looks/Video Data Bank,


2012    “The Amicable Return of Roland Barthes.” University of Minnesota Press Blog,





2015    “Sex Work and Cinéma Vérité,” University of South Florida Department of Humanities and Cultural Studies, Tampa, FL, October 23.


2014    “I see language: Gray Sex,” The Sexuality of Words symposium and Art=Text=Art: Private Languages/Public Systems exhibition, University of Buffalo, NY, November 8.


2012    “Queer Performativity, Excitable Speech, and Collecting,” Brog Blegen: Coming Out Party exhibition, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN, December 20.


2012    “International Perspectives on the Sixth/Urban Generation Filmmakers and Contemporary Chinese Documentary,” Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China, May 24.





Panel Chair:


2014    “Queering Domesticity, Rethinking Privacy,” American Studies Association, Los Angeles, CA, November 6.


2012    “Queer Ephemera, Queer Archives” (co-chaired with Tom Roach), Cultural Studies Association, University of California, San Diego, March 28–April 1.



Papers Presented:


2016    “QTPOC Language, Sex Worker Discourse, and Tangerine’s Reception,” American Studies Association, Denver, Colorado, November 17–20.


2016    “Tsai Ming-liang’s Haunted, Rented, Queer Spaces,” Signifying Spaces: Theory, Method, Textual Practice, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin, Poland, September 26–28.


2016    “Drag Visibility, Opacity, and the Media Interview: Divine, Holly Woodlawn, Doris Fish, and Leigh Bowery,” LGBT/Queer Visibility Matters, London, June 20–21.


2016    “The Videomaker and the Rent Boy: Gay-for-pay Confessional in 101 Rent Boys and Broke Straight Boys TV,” Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Atlanta, GA, March 30–April 3.


2015    “Migrant Sex Workers in the Films of Jia Zhangke and Cui Zi’en” (co-authored with Yongan Wu), Gender and Change: Transcending Boundaries, Chinese University of Hong Kong, December 8–9.


  1. “Opacity of the Water Closet,” The Practice of (in)visibility, University of Brighton, UK, June 25–26.


2015    “Live Nude Girls, Unite! The Work of Sex Work and Documentary,” COST ProsPol Troubling Prostitution: Exploring Intersections of Sex, Intimacy, and Labour Conference, Vienna, Austria, April 16–18.


2015    “The Photographic Message of Incidents (2010): Barthes and Orientalism,” Barthes at 100, University of Cardiff, Cardiff, Wales, March 30–31.


2014    “Cosmopolitan Auteurs: Tsai Ming-liang, Hou Hsiao-hsien, and Wong Kar-wai’s French Films,” 11th Asian Cinema Studies Society International Conference: Post-Asia Film, Media, and Popular Culture, University of Macau, Macau SAR, China, July 14–16.


2014    “Love Meetings: Pasolini and Foucault,” 5th Etnografia e Ricerca Qualitativa (Ethnography and Qualitative Research) Conference, Bergamo, Italy, June 5–7.


2014    “Intimately Shared Queer and Sex Worker Histories, Spaces, and Activism,” 7th Annual DC Queer Studies Symposium, University of Maryland College Park, April 25.


2014    “Shifts in Trans* Media,” Florida Collegiate Pride Coalition conference, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL, March 29.


2013    “Disorder and Excavating the Future from the Past” (co-authored with Yongan Wu), virtual presentation [video recording] at FilmAsia 2014: Second Asian Conference on Film and Documentary, Osaka, Japan, November 8–10; presented live at UNF English Graduate Association conference, November 6, Jacksonville, Florida.

2013    “Sexography: Sex Work and Cinéma Vérité,” 9th annual International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture and Society (IASSCS) conference, Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 28–31.


2013    “Writing Toward a Book on/in Proust: Late Roland Barthes and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick,” The Renaissance of Roland Barthes, CUNY Grad. Center, April 25–26.


2013    “The Habitual Decryptors of Desire: Duane Michals, Hervé Guibert, and Michel Foucault,” College Art Association, New York City, February 14–16.


2012    “Readymade Mao: Impersonation and Affective Relations” (co-authored with Yongan Wu), FilmAsia 2012: The Asian Conference on Film and Documentary, Osaka, Japan, November 2–4.


2012    “Queer Tactics: Interviews, Mediations, Remediations,” Cultural Studies Association, University of California, San Diego, March 28–April 1.


2012    “More Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, The Polymath,” DC Queer Studies Symposium: Delany at 70, University of Maryland, April 20.


2012    “Spatial and Sexual Disorientation in the Films of Tsai Ming-liang,” Asian Conference on Arts and Humanities, Osaka, Japan, April 5–8.


2012    “RuPaul’s Drag Race as Meta-Reality Television,” Northeast Modern Language Association, Rochester, NY, March 14–18.


2011    “Ethnographic Documentary and the Cultural Study of Sex Work,” Imagining Culture(s), Rethinking Disciplines, University of Miami, April 1–2.


2010    “Embody Your Oeuvre: Intellectual Profiles and the Philosophical Documentary,” Film and Philosophy: How Films Think, University of Florida, November 5–7.


2010    “‘Chinese Cheers’: Hou Hsiao-hsien and Transnational Homage,” Asian Conference on Arts and Humanities, Osaka, Japan, June 18–21.


2009    “Metahorror: Sequels, ‘The Rules,’ and the Metareferential Turn in Contemporary Horror Cinema,” The Metareferential Turn in Contemporary Arts and Media, University of Graz, Austria, October 1–3.


2009    “Anno’s Camera-Eye: Sexuality, Youth, and Inoculation,” Society for Cinema and Media Studies international conference, Josai International University, Tokyo, Japan, May 23.


2008    “Incorporating the Medical Gaze in Queer and Transgender Life Writing and Video,” Performance Studies international conference Interregnum: In Between States, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, August 20–24.


2008    “Incorporating the Medical Gaze in Queer Life Writing and Video,” Battleground States conference “The Body & Culture,” Bowling Green State University, February 22–23.


2006    “From the Body-as-fetish to the Lovable Body,” 2nd Pictoplasma conference on contemporary character design and art, Berlin, Germany, October 11–14.


2006    “Andy Warhol Up-Tight,” Technologies of Memory in the Arts international conference, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands, May 19–20.


2006    “The End of the Family Line: Filiation, Affiliation, Betrayal,” Making Friendship: Bonds, Boundaries, Becomings conference, New York University, April 6–8.


2005    “Looking Queer: Glancing, Cruising, Staring,” Los Angeles Queer Studies conference, UCLA/USC, ONE Archives, Los Angeles, CA, November 18–19.


2005    “Unseen Warhol/Seeing Barthes: ‘gay’ writing and photography,” Society for French Studies 46th annual conference, University of Leeds, UK, July 4–6.


2005    “Leaving the Celluloid Closet,” “The Cultural Studies Closet” panel, Northeast Modern Language Association convention, Cambridge, MA, March 31–April 2.


2005    “How Much Does it Cost for Cinema to Tell the Truth of Sex?” Capturing the Truth? Changing Strategies in Documentary, Humboldt University Berlin, February 8–11.


2004    “The Inscription of Michel Foucault,” Life Writing panel “Why Ethics? Why Now?” Modern Language Association convention, Philadelphia, PA, December 27–30.


de Villiers
Contact Information

(904) 620-2273

Office Hours

T/Th 1:45 to 2:45pm, W 1 to 4pm