John J Musser

Graduate Student


John Musser is a PhD candidate here in the English Department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, who is currently writing a dissertation about the queer sublime and the figure of the diva in the long 20th century.  John is most interested in the queerness of aesthetic theories and how they inform genealogical conversations about race and sexuality in the 20th century. 

Research Description

  • My dissertation is a genealogy of the figure of the diva in the long 20th Century.  Using aesthetic theories of the sublime, I argue that the diva’s body and voice—mediated by stage, screen, literary, and print cultures—create both the conditions forqueerness and an enduring queer counterpublic.


  • B.S. University of Pittsburgh


Special Issues of a Journal

  • Musser, John. "Brothers of Arcadia: Sublime Sadomasochism in Avant-garde Porn, and New Directions in Trans Embodiment." Transgender Media. Spec. iss. of Spectator 37.2 (2017):

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