Speaker introduction by Brian Lennon, Director, Digital Culture and Media Initiative
December 9, 2014
Mann Assembly Room, Paterno Library
It is my pleasure to welcome Brian Hochman to Penn State as a guest of the Digital Culture and Media Initiative.
Brian Hochman is Assistant Professor of English at Georgetown University, where he also serves on the faculties of programs in American Studies and Film and Media Studies. He is the author of a very interesting book titled Savage Preservation: The Ethnographic Origins of Modern Media Technology (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), which is the basis for his presentation today. He is currently working on a new book on the history of wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping in the United States titled The Wiretapped Nation: An American History Overheard.
I think Savage Preservation is one of the best books of the year in critical media studies. If you’ve read media theory with me, in a graduate seminar or another context, you’ll remember quite vividly, I’m sure, the disquiet caused us by the ethnographic mode in the work of Marshall McLuhan in particular, though also in the work of Walter Ong — and also by the glibness with which the colonial history of recording technologies is addressed, or rather largely avoided, in the work of Friedrich Kittler. Hochman’s book offers us a fully developed argument about the ethnographic mode of media studies, which reminds us that the origins of modern media themselves are fundamentally or, as Hochman puts it, “distinctly” ethnographic in character — and that the cultural authority of new media derives, today as in the past, from the colonial encounter with racial difference including racialized linguistic difference.
Please join me in welcoming Brian Hochman.