Shortly following the completion of my dissertation, in the summer of 2013 I had the great honor and privilege to interview one of the preeminent literary critics of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, J. Hillis Miller. That interview was published as “Isn’t It a Beautiful Day? An Interview with J. Hillis Miller” in the fall 2014 issue of boundary 2.
The interview has been reprinted in Reading Inside Out: Interviews and Conversations, a collection of interviews with Miller spanning the latter part of his career, edited by David Jonathan Y. Bayot and recently published by Sussex Academic Press. (The book is also available at a fairly reasonable price on Amazon.com.) In the table of contents below, I’ve provided links to where the other interviews in the volume were originally published (to the best of my ability).
Reading Inside Out: Interviews and Conversations, by J. Hillis Miller
Table of Contents
David Jonathan Y. Bayot, “Preface.”
J. Hillis Miller, “Introduction.”
Anfeng Sheng, “Literary Studies in Contexts” (2006).
Éamonn Dunne, Michael O’Rourke, Martin McQuillan, Graham Allen, Dragan Kujundžić, and Nicholas Royle, “You See You Ask an Innocent Question and You’ve Got a Long Answer” (2014).
Bradley J. Fest, “Isn’t It a Beautiful Day?” (2014).
Christopher D. Morris, “A Critical Story So Far” (2015).
I will be a featured writer at the monthly Writer’s Salon held by the Community Arts Network of Oneonta (CANO) on Thursday, May 17, 2018 from 7:30 – 9:00 pm. CANO is in the Wilber Mansion at 11 Ford Ave. in Oneonta, NY. There will be an open mic, followed by a roughly forty-five minute reading of my work and a Q & A.
I will be reading selections from my first two books, The Rocking Chair (Blue Sketch, 2015) and The Shape of Things (Salò, 2017), along with poems from my sequence, 2013-2016: Sonnets, and new poems from an untitled project.
As part of Hartwick’s Faculty Lecture Series, I will be giving a talk on May 2, 2018 at 12:20 pm in the Eaton Lounge of Bresee Hall at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York. The title of my lecture is “Too Big to Read: The Megatext in the Twenty-First Century,” and I will be presenting preliminary chapter from my work in progress of the same name.
In this new project, I am investigating the impact of massive textual accumulation on contemporary literary production and reception. With the increasing space made available by digital technology, texts are being created that are simply gigantic, unthinkably large compared to the previous century’s storage capacities. For instance, conceptual artist Michael Mandiberg recently printed out the entirety of Wikipedia in over seven thousand bound volumes, at some point in the near future Richard Grossman will publish a three-million-page “novel,” Breeze Avenue, and 2016 saw the appearance of No Man’s Sky, a videogame containing eighteen quintillion planets. I argue that with the appearance of such massively unreadable cultural artifacts—texts that are, quite literally, too big to read—the digital age has seen the emergence of a new transmedia form: what I call the megatext. I define megatexts as unreadably large yet concrete aesthetic and rhetorical objects that are produced and conceived as singular works and that depend upon digital technology and collaborative authorship for their production. Using the working paper for Grossman’s forthcoming Breeze Avenue as a case study, this lecture will present a theory of speculative criticism for approaching these massive texts. Drawing upon Timothy Morton’s concept of the hyperobject and suggesting that megatexts have roots in literary postmodernism, this talk will explore some of the ways that megatexts respond to the conditions of the Anthropocene and open up new spaces for imaginative reading, creation, and understanding in contemporaneity.
For a (longer) published version of this lecture, see “Toward a Theory of the Megatext: Speculative Criticism and Richard Grossman’s ‘Breeze Avenue Working Paper,” in Scale in Literature and Culture, ed. Michael Tavel Clarke and David Wittenberg (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 253-80.
For other parts of this work in progress, see “The Megatext and Neoliberalism” and “The Time of Megatexts: Dark Accumulation and Mark Z. Danielewski’s The Familiar,” both available on my academia.edu page. I also have a forthcoming short essay discussing this project: “Writing Briefly about Really Big Things,” in Begging the Question: Chauceriana, Book History, and Humanistic Inquiry (Mythodologies II), by Joseph A. Dane (Los Angeles: Marymount Institute Press, forthcoming 2018).
I will be leading a keyword seminar on length at the 2018 Society for Novel Studies Conference, May 31-June 2 at Cornell University. I have included a description of the seminar and the names of the other presenters below. Other keyword seminars can be found here.
Keyword Seminar on Length at 2018 Society for Novel Studies Conference
From multi-season serial television, to cinematic universes, to immense videogames, narratives across media appear to have gotten longer in the digital age. Can the same be said of the novel? On the one hand, authors have written lengthy novels throughout the form’s history. On the other, the issue of novelistic length seems newly pressing now that digital technologies have given writers the capacity to author books that are unreadably massive (e.g., Richard Grossman’s forthcoming three-million-page Breeze Avenue or Mark Leach’s seventeen-million-word Marienbad My Love). This seminar invites its participants to take up questions about length with regard to the role and status of the novel historically and at present. How does the history of print narrative influence how we think about novel length in the twenty-first century? Are there upper and lower limits to how long a novel can be (and why would such limits matter)? What is the relationship between the novel and other transmedia meganarratives? What is the legacy of the twentieth century’s “big, ambitious novel”? And, going forward, how do scholars study print and digital texts that are too big to read?
Nuclear and Environmental
Daniel Bessner, “On the Brink.”
Jesse Oak Taylor, “The Work of Fiction in an Age of Anthropogenic Climate Change,” review of The Great Derangement, by Amitav Ghosh.
Claire Colebrook, “Fragility, Globalism, and the End of the World.”
Rob Reynolds, “Nuclear Armageddon Fears Impact on US Pop Culture.”
Ian Bogost, “The Internet Broke Emergency Alerts.”
And Anthony Oliveira, “The Year in Apocalypses.”
US Politics and Economics
Judith Butler, “Limits on Free Speech?”
Lauren Berlant, “Big Man.”
Jacob Hamburger, “Wendy Brown: ‘Who Is Not a Neoliberal Today?'”
James Risen, “The Biggest Secret.”
Thomas B. Edsall, “Is President Trump a Stealth Postmodernist or Just a Liar?”
Patrick Blanchfield, “Black Hole Sun God: Michael Wolff Takes Stock.”
James Fallows, “It’s Been an Open Secret All Along.”
Umair Haque, “Why We’re Underestimating American Collapse.”
Anders Engberg-Pedersen, “Specters of War,” review of Kill Boxes: Facing the Legacy of US-Sponsored Torture, Indefinite Detention, and Drone Warfare, by Elisabeth Weber.
Reece Rogers, “Permanent Precarity for American Millennials.”
Daniel Schlozman, “The Plutocratic Id.”
Matthew Yglesias, “The Wholesale Looting of America.”
James Mann, “Damage Bigly.”
Michael Tomasky, “The Worst of the Worst.”
Vann R. Newkirk II, “Five Decades of White Backlash.”
Against the Grain, “The Libertarian Ideology of Bitcoin.”
carla bergman and Nick Montgomery, “Friendship Is a Root of Freedom.”
Damon Winter, “The Case for the Subway.”
And Bryan Bender, “The Pentagon’s Secret Search for UFOs.”
#MeToo | Time’s Up
Lauren Berlant, “The Predator and the Jokester.”
Stephanie Zacharek, Eliana Dockterman, and Haley Sweetland Edwards, “Person of the Year 2017: The Silence Breakers.”
Uma Thurman, “This Is Why Uma Thurman Is Angry.”
Salma Hayek, “Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster Too.”
Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young, “The Paradox of Protecting Students.”
Becca Rothfeld, “Can Sexual Predators Be Good Scholars?”
Sheila McMillen, “Dirty Old Men on the Faculty.”
James Hamblin, “This Is Not a Sex Panic.”
Josh Gerstein, “NSA Deleted Surveillance Data It Pledged to Preserve.”
Julia Weist with Nestor Siré, 17.(SEPT) [By WeistSiréPC]™.
Nancy Kuhl, “Mina Loy Papers Online.”
Matthew Wysocki, “Gotta Scan ‘Em All: No Man’s Sky and the Universe of the Possible.”
Michael Garfield, “The Future Is Disgusting.”
Hannah’s Bookshelf, “The Library at the End of Days.”
Monoskop, “McKenzie Wark.”
Mark Sussman, “What I Read: January 2018.”
Leonard Cassuto, “The Incredible Shrinking Book Exhibit.”
And Bill Pearis, “Opera Based on Fugazi Stage Banter Coming to NYC in February.”
Samuel Matlack, “Quantum Poetics: Why Physics Can’t Get Rid of Metaphor.”
Theory and Criticism
Cynthia L. Haven, “The French Invasion.”
Birger Vanwesenbeeck, “Derrida’s Quarrel: ‘La Différance’ at 50.”
John Lechte, “Julia Kristeva and Thought in Revolt.”
Ursula K. Le Guin, “A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be.”
Emily Apter, “Cosmopolitics.”
Rachel Greenwald Smith, “Tiny Books of the Resistance.”
Andy Hines, “The Material Life of Criticism.”
Nathan Brown, “Postmodernity, Not Yet: Toward a New Periodization.”
Lindsay Waters and Peter J. Dougherty, “Editor 2 Editor.”
Alexander R. Galloway, “A Theory of Media.”
Colin Koopman, “The Power Thinker.”
Literature and Culture
Ursula K. Le Guin, “How to Build a New Kind of Utopia.”
Dee Wedemeyer, “William H. Gass, Acclaimed Postmodern Author, Dies at 93.”
Justin E. H. Smith, “I Write Because I Hate: William Gass, 1927-2017.”
Carvell Wallace, “Why Black Panther Is a Defining Moment for Black America.”
Ange Mlinko, “Willing to Be Reckless,” review of Marianne Moore’s New Collected Poems, edited by Heather Cass White.
Toril Moi, “Describing My Struggle.”
Gina Apostol, “Francine Prose’s Problem.”
Will Self, “In Praise of Difficult Novels.”
Tracy K. Smith, “The Universe: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.”
Terrance Hayes, “American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin.”
Geoff Peck, “Timothy McVeigh Snared by Kobe’s Musecage.”
Charles Bernstein, “My Cars.”
Kristen Roupenian, “Cat Person.”
Claire Fallon, “Why a New Yorker Story about Bad Sex Went Viral.”
Dan Hassler-Forest, “The Last Jedi: Saving Star Wars from Itself.”
Abigail Nussbaum, “Asking the Wrong Questions.”
Rob Zacny, “Moby-Dick Makes for an Improbably Good, Very Strange Strategy RPG,” review of Nantucket.
Clarisse Loughrey, “Fan Sends 80s Nobel Prizewinning Book to Modern Publishers. . . .”
Electric Lit, “Does Any Book Really Need to Be 1600 Pages Long?”
Rachel Mennies, “At Home.”
M. Kitchell, In the Desert of Mute Squares.
And James Livingston, “Fuck Football.”
Rachel Mennies, “Paying to Play: On Submission Fees in Poetry Publishing.”
Humanities and Higher Education
W. J. T. Mitchell, “The Trolls of Academe: Making Safe Spaces Into Brave Spaces.”
Tegan Bennett Daylight, “‘The Difficulty Is the Point’: Teaching Spoon-Fed Students How to Really Read.”
Scott Jaschik, “Shocker: Humanities Grads Gainfully Employed and Happy.”
Justin Stover, “There Is No Case for the Humanities.”
Patricia A. Alexander and Lauren M. Singer, “A New Study Shows That Students Learn Way More Effectively from Print Textbooks than Screens.”
Kathleen Fitzpatrick, “Generous Thinking: The University and the Public Good.”
Scott Carlson, “How Enrollment Challenges Can Spur Change.”
Audrey Waters, “Education Technology and the Business of Student Debt.”
Chuck Collins, “A Serious Push for Free College in California.”
Christian Smith, “Higher Education Is Drowning in BS.”
Erin Bartram, “The Sublimated Grief of the Left Behind.”
And Debby Thompson, “The Stages of Grading.”