Words for the New Year: New Year’s Eve Reading

In Oneonta, New York on the Main Stage of the Foothills Performing Arts Center at 5 pm on December 31, 2018, I will be reading a few poems with a stellar lineup of writers from all around the Catskills. As part of the town’s First Night New Year’s Eve Celebration, Robert Bensen, Eva Davidson, Kirby Olson, Bertha Rogers, Julia Suarez Hayes, Jo Mish, and myself will be giving a reading, “Words for the New Year.”

For more information contact david@davidhayes.com or Julia Suarez Hayes at suarezj@hartwickcollege.edu.

Reading of “Volcanoes/Organics” and Other Poems

On September 18, 2018, I read some poems with Julie Suarez-Hayes at SUNY Oneonta  in Oneonta, NY for the Red Dragon Reading Series. I read “Volcanoes/Organics” and “Nothingness Introduced into the Heart of the Image,” from The Rocking Chair (Blue Sketch, 2015), and “Fallout: New Vegas” and “An Open Letter to Narcissus: The Magazine by Narcissists, for Narcissists,” from The Shape of Things (Salò, 2017). I concluded with a couple poems from a new project, which I have omitted from the recording. Roger W. Hecht provided a wonderful introduction. Thanks to Ruth Carr for the recording, and to George Hovis and Bob Bensen for inviting me to read.

Here is a link to the audio.

And a clip of “Volcanoes/Organics”:

 

Reading of “Symphony of the Great Transnational”

Last night I was the featured writer at the monthly Writers’ Salon at the Center for the Arts Network of Oneonta in Oneonta, New York. Among other poems, I read “Symphony of the Great Transnational,” a long poem from my first book, The Rocking Chair (Blue Sketch, 2015). Here is a link to the recording; a slightly different version of the poem was originally published in Spork in 2007.

“Too Big to Read: The Megatext in the Twenty-First Century,” Lecture at Hartwick College

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).

“Toward a Theory of the Megatext” in Scale in Literature and Culture

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.”