Tesla Cariani

Tesla Cariani is a scholar and teacher of gender, sexuality, and visual culture. Tesla’s interdisciplinary research on contemporary media and literature examines how gender, sexuality, and race are fundamentally shaped by the visual.

Tesla received a PhD in English as well as a graduate certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Emory University in 2021. During graduate school, Tesla also served as the Media Lead for Emory’s Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS). In 2022, Tesla co-curated a public exhibit on LGBTQ+ comics that was on view in Emory’s Woodruff Library.

Tesla’s current book project, Visibility Will Not Save Us: Violence, Embodiment, and Affect in Queer and Trans Media, grapples with the potential violence of—and cultural desire for—queer and trans visibility. This project investigates how issues of visuality such as witnessing, collective memory, exposure, invisibility, and hypervisibility surface across genres and at different moments within the last five decades of LGBTQ+ activism. Moving between film, literature, graphic narratives, and photography, each chapter brings together artists and authors whose work responds to histories of violence. Visibility Will Not Save Us traces aesthetic and narrative strategies that challenge representational conventions to offer new politics and possibilities for queer and trans life.

At Rice, Tesla expanded and refined Visibility Will Not Save Us as well as began work on a second major project. Tesla’s work has been published in Parallax, PMLA, The LGBTQ Comics Studies Reader (winner of the 2023 Eisner Award for Best Academic/Scholarly Work), and The Routledge Handbook of Trans Literature.