Thursday, March 31, 2016
Grucci Room, 102 Burrowes Building
On Thursday, March 31, 2016, Matt Tierney (Penn State) delivered a lecture titled “Critical Cyberculture in the Large World House.”
Description of presentation
In our rejoinders to the advance of technology, we often assume that ours is an unprecedented historical conjuncture. This talk, however, will consider a prior conjuncture, in the late 1960s, when some poets and activists responded with mixed feelings toward automation, nuclear proliferation, and the apparent cohesion of an electronic “global village.” Setting these novelties in context, a range of writers — from Martin Luther King Jr. and Shulamith Firestone to W.S. Merwin and Thomas Merton to James Laughlin and Philip José Farmer — instead imagined how poetry and collective life might survive the sudden arrival of unfamiliar machines. This presentation is an excerpt from a book in progress titled “A World of Incomparables: Interruptions of Communicative Globalism.”
Matt Tierney is Assistant Professor of English at Penn State, University Park. He holds the Ph.D. in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University and is the author of What Lies Between: Void Aesthetics and Postwar Post-Politics (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2015), along with articles in the journals Cultural Critique, Camera Obscura, and Image and Narrative. He recently co-edited a special issue of the journal Postmodern Culture titled “Medium and Mediation” and is at work on a book to be titled “A World of Incomparables: Interruptions of Communicative Globalism.”
Description, from publisher’s Web site
This book explores the emergence of void aesthetics in fiction, film, and theory in the postwar period in order to assert the disruptive opportunity this aesthetic offers to the post-political present.
By what aesthetic practice might post-politics be disrupted? Now is a moment that many believe has become post-racial, post-national, post-queer, and post-feminist. This belief is reaffirmed by recent events in the politics of diminished expectations, especially in the United States. What Lies Between illustrates how today’s discourse repeats the post-politics of an earlier time. In the aftermath of World War II, both Communism and Fascism were no longer considered acceptable, political extremes appeared exhausted, and consensus appeared dominant. Then, unlike today, this consensus met a formal challenge, a disruption in the shape of a generative and negativist aesthetic figure — the void. What Lies Between explores fiction, film, and theory from this period that disrupted consensual and technocratic rhetorics with formal experimentation. It seeks to develop an aesthetic rebellion that is still relevant, and indeed vital, in the positivist present.
Publisher’s Web site for What Lies Between: Void Aesthetics and Postwar Post-Politics
“Introduction: Medium and Mediation,” Postmodern Culture 25.2 (January 2015)