Research Expertise and Interest
rhetoric, photography, autobiography, narrative and culture, media and society, documentation, early modern Britain
Michael Mascuch is a professor in the Department of Rhetoric. His research and teaching concerns the documentary functions and effects of photographic images and narrative discourse. He has specialized in the field of autobiography, or “egodocuments,” and published a monograph and a co-edited collection, both on the history of autobiographical texts and discourses. His current research is an interpretive history of the political uses of photography in modern Cambodia, with specific reference to the epochal Khmer Rouge catastrophe of the 1970s. Organized around the notorious S-21 prisoner identification photos, it looks at the period of Cambodian independence (1953-now) and addresses cinema alongside both fine art and vernacular still photography. It will argue that inside and outside the nation, the photographic representation of “modern” Cambodia presented an illusion of Cambodian reality, obscuring rather than documenting actual problems of social, economic, and political modernization, resulting in an absence of vision that was conducive to tragic state failure. He is a founding editor, with Arianne Baggerman and Rudolf Dekker, of the Brill academic book series, Egodocuments and History. His teaching addresses the several fields related to documents and documentary processes that interest him. These include the history and theory of narrative genres and forms, in particular autobiography; orality and literacy; photography and visual culture; material culture; new media; and literary and critical theory.