When Aviva Dove-Viebahn was born, her mother was working in the ASU Department of English. She was a Sun Devil before she even knew it.
Her family moved to North Carolina when she was five, so she doesn’t remember much of her Arizona childhood. After finishing her PhD in visual and cultural studies at the University of Rochester, she took a position at ASU’s Barrett Honors College in 2012 and then, as serendipity will have it, joined the Department of English as assistant professor in film and media studies in 2018. Not only is her mom thrilled that she’s back in the English department, but Dove-Viebahn loves working here among “such a collegial and welcoming group of faculty, strong and thoughtful leadership, and motivated, engaged students.”
Her research centers on gender and race in television and visual/popular culture. This past year, Dove-Viebahn taught “Race and Gender in American Film, Television and Cultural Studies” (online), and a course she designed: “Fighting Femmes: Gender and Power in Popular Culture.” She will be teaching the same courses in the coming year.
“My current project,” she explains, “examines the way contemporary television shows focused on female protagonists who have some kind of extraordinary abilities (of detection or fighting prowess, etc.) explicitly seem to elide gender while also grounding those extraordinary abilities in gendered traits that often boil down to a kind of feminine intuition.”
She recently published a book chapter on the character River Tam from the film Serenity (based on the Joss Whedon series Firefly), which “compared her to the ancient Trojan priestess Cassandra and discussed the politics of ecstatic revenge.”
She also just finished writing an article about Julianne Moore and “her portrayal of a housewife in films in which she ‘queers’ the narrative in various ways, thinking through the way that housewife characters are able to subvert dominant forms of family and domesticity from within.” The article is not out yet, but we will be anxious to read it.
She and her partner have a lovely five-year-old daughter, “precocious and wild in the best possible way.” They also have a dog and three cats, in addition to a horse (although the horse doesn’t live in their house—that would be a bit too wild). In her spare time, Dove-Viebahn loves to ride her horse and aerial dance. But not with the horse. She is also writing a screenplay. And, whether you call it hobby or work, the process provides her with a sense of joy.
As a film scholar, of course she has a lot of favorite movies. One of her all-time favorites is Singin’ in the Rain—apropos this year due to the welcome May rains in Arizona. Her name “Aviva” is Hebrew for spring. And serendipitous as well because Arizona experienced one gorgeous spring.
Welcome home to English, Aviva Dove-Viebahn.
Image: ASU photo of Aviva Dove-Viebahn.