What Use is the Biological to the Black Artist?

Cera’s dissertation, “Vivified Viscerality: Bioscience and the Black Interior in U.S. Black Literature and Sculpture,” contributes to the interdisciplinary health humanities by demonstrating how and why Black American artists engage biology when depicting racialized life. “Vivified Viscerality” does this by analyzing representations of the internal body in Black American literature and sculpture. Cera identifies the “Black interior” as a critical zone for consciousness raising in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

While dominant American literary and art historical criticism treats “interiority” as synonymous with psychology and emotion, this project recognizes the biological interior as a fundamental contributor to (political) consciousness. Cera argues that artists mobilize somatic depictions of Black life to critique anti-Black racism and expose its evolving techniques of domination. To support these claims, Cera analyzes representations of physiological conditions to track how they teach characters and audiences about their social positionalities and communicate strategies for surviving and resisting total subjugation.

Cera’s research interests include U.S. Black Literatures (African American, Afro-Latinx, and other Black diasporic), Radical Protest Literatures of the U.S., Black Studies, Critical Race Theories, Affect Theory, Gender and Sexuality, Histories of Science and Medicine, and Body Studies.