Photo by Tony RinaldoPhoto by Tony Rinaldo
University of California, Los Angeles
Cultural Studies
Moving Bodies of the Avant-Garde

Michelle Clayton teaches comparative and Latin American literature at the University of California at Los Angeles. Her research focuses on the international avant-gardes, with a particular emphasis on artistic reframings of bodies and languages in modernity and on lyric engagements with history.

At the Radcliffe Institute, she will work on a project examining the role of movement in the avant-gardes. Treating movement as both a code of gesture and a mode of circulation across cultures, the project focuses on four figures in constant motion: Josephine Baker, Charlie Chaplin, Isadora Duncan, and Tórtola Valencia. It explores the commentaries on modernity performed by and projected onto their bodies, tracking the responses they generated in a variety of spaces and artistic media. The project aims to foreground the role of dance in the avant-gardes, while also comparing responses to modernity in Europe and the Americas. By illustrating the diverse ways in which avant-garde culture moved, this project proposes a more interdisciplinary and transnational approach to questions of cultural exchange.

Clayton received her BA in modern languages (Spanish and German) from Oxford University and a PhD in Romance languages and literatures from Princeton University. She has published articles on modern and contemporary literature in a variety of journals and edited volumes. Her forthcoming book, “Body Language: César Vallejo and the Reach of Poetry,” connects the Peruvian poet’s writings to debates within the Latin American and European avant-gardes, arguing for the critical relevance of Vallejo’s poetry and prose to broader paradigms of international modernism.

This information is accurate as of the fellowship year indicated for each fellow.
Photo by Tony Rinaldo