Dan Malinowksi and I are organizing a session, “Postwar Variations,” at the 2020 meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association in Chicago, IL, March 19-22, and invite the submission of abstracts through the ACLA portal. Here is the call for papers:
This seminar will take as its starting point the appeal of the injunction on Frank O’Hara’s tombstone to “live as variously as possible” for writers of the last seventy years. Variation enchants and exhausts. It points to difference, but difference contained recognizably within the bounds of a stable point or concept. Variation resists boredom, but it does so without necessarily extending (or losing) the connotations that mark other descriptions of difference: revolution, disruption, development, progress, etc. Variation, then, is an odd demand and one that can characterize aesthetic contexts as well as historical ones.
Variation takes many forms in postwar literature. From Bernadette Mayer’s sonnets to John Keene’s revisionist history, writers have shifted recognizable forms and histories into new forms for different aesthetic and political purposes during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Not limited to the avant-garde, variation has also been at home in mass culture during this period, evidenced by contemporary cultural formations such as the fourth remake of A Star is Born (2019) or the masses of fan fiction hosted on anarchiveofourown.org. In the tech world, Mark Zuckerberg’s now-infamous credo, “Move fast and break things,” has revealed itself to be a variation on an older form of capitalist accumulation rather than the radical change it originally purported to be. On a larger scale, Giovanni Arrighi’s work has demonstrated the periods of accumulation that structure capitalism vary in context if not form. In short, variation cuts in multiple directions and appears central to any understanding of the later twentieth century and its developments.
Given this, how is variation to be understood? What is the appeal of variation for writers from 1945 until today? How can variation be spotted? What does it mean to be “varied”? What does aesthetic variation do for our conceptions of aesthetic form, politics, or reception? How might we (continue to) theorize variation in the digital age? This seminar invites papers that variously engage with the topic of variation in post-1945 literary and cultural production.
Please submit 150-250 word abstracts with a brief bio through ACLA portal by September 23, 2019. Please contact Dan Malinowski at email@example.com or Bradley J. Fest at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
I had the privilege of meeting Richard Siken when I was quite young–an undergraduate at the University of Arizona–and he gave me lots of good advice on the poetry world (and life), conversations I still cherish. Please help him out.
Stroke Recovery Fund for Poet Richard Siken.
Nuclear and Environmental
Alenka Zupančič, “The Apocalypse Is (Still) Disappointing.”
James Livingston, “Time, Dread, Apocalypse Now.
Ted Nordhaus, “The Empty Radicalism of the Climate Apocalypse.”
Jessica Hurley and Dan Sinykin, eds., Apocalypse, special issue of ASAP/Journal.
Brad Plumer, “Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace.”
Damian Carrington, “Why The Guardian Is Changing the Language It Uses about the Environment.”
My essay, “Reading Now and Again: Hyperarchivalism and Democracy in Ranjan Ghosh and J. Hillis Miller’s Thinking Literature across Continents,” has been published in CounterText: A Journal for the Study of the Post-Literary in the the second of two special issues devoted to Ghosh and Miller’s book. The first issue is available here, and the second has an interview with Miller available from behind the paywall. I’ve included an abstract of my essay below, along with a table of contents.
Abstract: This review essay approaches Ranjan Ghosh and J. Hillis Miller’s Thinking Literature across Continents (Duke UP, 2016) from a set of questions about what it means to read in the age of hyperarchival accumulation. Written against the background of events in the United States and elsewhere during the fall of 2017, the essay tracks and assesses Ghosh and Miller’s differing methods for approaching literary study in the twenty-first century: undiscriminating catholicity and rhetorical reading, respectively. Through emblematic readings of David Foster Wallace’s novel The Pale King (2011), the videogame Katamari Damacy (2004), and Amy Hungerford’s Making Literature Now (2016), this essay argues that Thinking Literature across Continents self-reflexively models and performs the interested, situated reading practices necessary for continuing the never-ending project of encountering, sharing, accounting for, learning from, and contending with others and their divergent readings, practices that, though many may have lost sight of them today, are fundamental to the project of democracy itself.
“Thinking Literature Across . . . II,” special issue, CounterText, table of contents:
Ivan Callus and James Corby, “Editorial.”
J. Hillis Miller, Ivan Callus, and James Corby, “The CounterText Interview: J. Hillis Miller.”
Bradley J. Fest, “Reading Now and Again: Hyperarchivalism and Democracy in Ranjan Ghosh and J. Hillis Miller’s Thinking Literature across Continents.”
Simona Sawhney, “Boatmen, Wastrels, and Demons: Figures of Literature.”
Jakob Lothe, “The Author’s Ethical Responsibility and the Ethics of Reading.”
Jonathan Locke Hart, “Ideas of Poetics and the Close Reading of Poetry.”
Shaobo Xie, “Does Literature Matter Today? Thoughts of the Outside.”
Kirk Kenny and James Corby, “Screens of Fortune: A Photo-Essay.”
Timothy Mathews, “The Many Hands of Thick Time: William Kentridge at the Whitechapel Gallery.”
I have written an essay, “Reading Now and Again: Hyperarchivalism and Democracy in Ranjan Ghosh and J. Hillis Miller’s Thinking Literature across Continents,” which will appear in the spring issue of CounterText: A Journal for the Study of the Post-Literary, the second of two special issues devoted to Thinking Literature across Continents (Duke UP, 2016). I’ll provide more information about this essay at a later date.
In the meantime, the first issue of CounterText addressing Ghosh and Miller‘s book (vol. 3, no. 3) is now available. Additionally, a conversation between Marjorie Perloff, Charles Bernstein, and the two authors opening the special issue is available from behind the journal’s paywall.
“Thinking Literature Across . . .,” special issue, CounterText, table of contents:
Marjorie Perloff, J. Hillis Miller, Charles Bernstein. and Ranjan Ghosh, “The CounterText Conversation: Thinking Literature. . . .”
Maria Margaroni, “Dialogics, Diacritics, Diasporics: Ranjan Ghosh, J. Hillis Miller, and the Becoming-Now of Theory.”
Georges Van Den Abbeele, “Literary Intransigence: Between J. Hillis Miller and Ranjan Ghosh.”
Claire Colebrook, “Crossing Continents.”
Steven Yao, “How Many Ways of Thinking Literature across Continents?”
Pramod K. Nayar, “Literature/Ethics/Reading.”
Susana Onega, “Thinking English Literature and Criticism under the Transmodern Paradigm.”
Lene M. Johannessen, “Poetics of Peril.”
Adrian Grima and Ivan Callus, “Irreverent and Inventive Mamo.”
Juann Mamo, “Nanna Venut’s Children in America: Two Chapters from the First English Translation,” trans. Albert Gatt.
Ivan Callus, “Literature, Journalism, and the Countertextual: Daphne Caruana Galizia, 1964–2017.”
Mario Aquilina, review of Essayism and the Return of the Essay, by Brian Dillon.
The first essay from my new project on unreadably large texts, “Toward a Theory of the Megatext: Speculative Criticism and Richard Grossman’s ‘Breeze Avenue Working Paper,'” has been published in Scale in Literature and Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), edited by Michael Tavel Clarke and David Wittenberg. The book includes essays by Bruno Latour and Mark McGurl. You can find the entire collection here through Springer Link if you have institutional access, or individual essays via the links below. The book is also available on Amazon. I’m happy to send along a copy of my essay to anyone who is interested (festb[at]hartwick[dot]edu).
Table of Contents for Scale in Literature and Culture
Michael Tavel Clarke and David Wittenberg, Introduction.
Scale: History and Conception
Zach Horton, “Composing a Cosmic View: Three Alternatives for Thinking Scale in the Anthropocene.”
Derek Woods, “Epistemic Things in Charles and Ray Eames’s Powers of Ten.“
Bruno Latour, “Anti-Zoom.”
Scale in Culture
Mark McGurl, “Making It Big: Picturing the Radio Age in King Kong.“
Joan Lubin, “The Stature of Man: Population Bomb on Spaceship Earth.”
Aikaterini Antonopoulou, “Large-Scale Fakes: Living in Architectural Reproductions.”
Scale in Literature
Melody Jue, “From the Goddess Ganga to a Teacup: On Amitav Ghosh’s Novel The Hungry Tide.“
Oded Nir, “World Literature as a Problem of Scale.”
Bradley J. Fest, “Toward a Theory of the Megatext: Speculative Criticism and Richard Grossman’s ‘Breeze Avenue Working Paper.'”
Jeffrey Severs, “Cutting Consciousness Down to Size: David Foster Wallace, Exformation, and the Scale of Encyclopedic Fiction.”