Horrorism and Ontological Dignity: What Do/not Historical Signs Tell Us?

This article expands on a previous project, "The Ghosts of Pendleton," that deals with how a small, Southern town demonstrates implicit and explicit racism. "Horrorism and Ontological Dignity" extends Italian philosopher Adriana Cavarero’s reading of ontological dignity to include nonhuman subjects and uses Pendleton, South Carolina as a case study. Specifically, I focus on town’s official marker, which demonstrates what Walter calls an “expressive space.” This historical signage deflects from events that the town does not want to discuss: namely, the enslavement of African Americans, the fact that the land originally belonged to the Cherokee nation, and that two plantation houses are now used as tourist destinations. The town’s official marker is a wound—in the center of the town—and demonstrates how a space can experience horrorism as it adopts a rhetoric of deflection to detract from its uncomfortable 226-year-old history.

The Ghosts of Pendleton

Although the humanities have traditionally addressed critical issues in society, many times, these theories do not propose solutions for change. Gregory Ulmer, a critic who coined the term electracy, argues that scholars should “reduce the gap between theory and practice” through creative invention (Applied Grammatology ix). “The Ghosts of Pendleton” is a work of creative invention that incorporates my interest in electracy and social justice—the combination of ideas that I will refer to as electrate justice. The film examines the explicit and implicit racism that still pervades a small Southern town outside of Clemson, South Carolina through the use of historical documents and images, as well as contemporary photos and videos of material spaces within the town. In particular, I am interested in the convergences of material, digital, and unseen spaces that compose the chora of Pendleton. The film represents the beginning of a konsult, an interactive space where individuals can “consult” together to enact change (Ulmer). It is an act of agency—or egency, in the words of Ulmer—in which I argue that although the chora of Pendleton is diseased by racism, we can create a konsult for socio-political change. “The Ghosts of Pendleton” seeks to explore how marginalized voices and images are represented, how sharply segregated neighborhoods spur continued racism, and, in doing so, begins to uncover a more complete history of Pendleton.

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Legacies of Fort Hill

This film, "The Legacies of Fort Hill," responds to Clemson University's reticence to speak about all of its histories and is a collaborative project with Stephen Quigley, Eric James Stephens, and Brian Gaines. While Clemson was created as a “high seminary of learning” for all people of South Carolina, the implied inclusiveness of Thomas Green Clemson’s words is at best problematic. A singular history bestowed by the university’s administration and Board of Trustees privileges a straight white male dominant culture. Meanwhile, the story of slavery and the subsequent Jim Crow-era convict labor that functioned to amass wealth and construct labor has been omitted. While Clemson University has moved towards a better future as a top 100 university, it has done little to address the complexity of Fort Hill’s past. There are currently no memorials on the lawn of Fort Hill reminding us of the slaves who worked and died there. [2] Instead, the memorials on the lawn are devoted to Calhoun’s accomplishments and to the white philanthropists who donated sufficiently to the university. Fort Hill is neither a place of memorial for the wrongs committed on this land nor a healing place that orients us towards a better way of living. Instead, superstition reigns: many Clemson undergraduates believe they will not graduate if they pass the threshold of Fort Hill. Instead of a seminary devoted to learning, we look away through our ignorance. 

Of the Appalachian Diaspora 


This collaborative project combines my photography with Stephen Quigley's prose. As a critical and creative piece, the images were chosen as a nod to an Ulmerian image of widescope. As I have explored my mystory, the image of the leaf re/occurs in my video work, photography, and writing.

Book Cover Design Project: Oral Communication in the Disciplines: A Resource for Teacher Development and Training


A collaborative project with Brian Gaines, this book cover design was inspired by the colored waveforms of the book's title as it is spoken aloud.