Peripatetic is one sure way to describe Dahlia Schweitzer. The Baton Rouge-born novelist, chanteuse and performance artist studied at Wesleyan University, lived and worked in New York and Berlin, and landed in Los Angeles some eight years ago to begin her studies at ArtCenter. “I was traveling around Europe doing a Dietrich-inspired punk rock cabaret show, but decided I wanted to focus more on my writing,” she recalls. “I was having a very tough time finding a graduate program that felt like a good fit. But ArtCenter faculty definitely understood and appreciated my interdisciplinary approach.”
As a graduate student in Criticism and Theory, Schweitzer produced a master’s thesis that eventually became Cindy Sherman’s Office Killer: Another Kind of Monster—her 2014 book and first work of nonfiction. Sherman’s only feature film achieved instant cult status when it premiered in 1997, but never got the critical attention it deserved. Now pursuing a PhD in cinema and media studies at UCLA (while teaching writing in the Humanities and Sciences Department at ArtCenter), Schweitzer is exploring “outbreak narratives” in American film and television from the mid-1990s to the present.
“Despite the seemingly disparate nature of my work—music, fiction, performance, and now contagion—you’ll see a consistent focus on issues of gender, sexuality and identity in it all,” she says.