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.”
Two new books are available for pre-order in which I have contributions.
Scale in Literature and Culture, edited by Michael Tavel Clarke and David Wittenberg, and including essays by Bruno Latour and Mark McGurl, can now be ordered from Palgrave Macmillan. My contribution is the first part of my new project on megatexts: “Toward a Theory of the Megatext: Speculative Criticism and Richard Grossman’s ‘Breeze Avenue Working Paper.'”
J. Hillis Miller’s Reading Inside Out: Interviews and Conversations, edited by David Jonathan Y. Bayot, is forthcoming from Sussex Academic Press and reprints my interview with Professor Miller from 2014, “Isn’t It a Beautiful Day?,” originally published in boundary 2.
Both books are also available on Amazon (here and here). (As both are also potentially prohibitively expensive, please do not hesitate to contact me requesting the essay or interview.)
The Shape of Things, my second book of poetry, is now available and shipping from Salò Press. Order it here if you’re in the UK and here if you are anywhere else. I am very proud of this book.
Bradley J. Fest’s second volume of poetry, The Shape of Things, continues his project of poetic assemblage. Written in an age of ubiquitous algorithmic surveillance and increasingly catastrophic climate change, these poems both describe the shape of things in the overdeveloped world and endeavor to challenge the widespread feeling that the imagination has been foreclosed in the twenty-first century. An ambivalent hyperarchive, the collection draws influence from a number of seemingly incompatible lyric registers, including the language of contemporary theory. The Shape of Things culminates in an eponymous long poem that asks if a poiesis of “network being” is possible and suggests that there might be some other way to dance to the sounds of our present.
If Whitman and Adorno had a knife fight on the ruins of the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, The Shape of Things would be the perfect voice over. Which is to say, though it’s not a pretty scene, there’s pleasure and beauty to be found in the action and music of the syntax and in following the wild movements of this poet’s mind. Truly original, dazzlingly smart and game for anything, Fest writes of lives and desires torn apart by the neoliberal security state. Jolting between paranoiac rage and orgasmic bliss, between all- out negation and Wordsworthian swoon, these poems describe the awful implications of a contemporary moment in which “we have made ourselves a gallows of a house.”
–Sten Carlson, author of Fur & After
To call The Shape of Things “post-apocalyptic” would be a mistake: its poignant present tense anxiety unfolds in the apocalypse now. Ataris and hunter-gatherers lean together over the edge of time, commingling in harrowing yet pleasurable ways. But this is no book of “detached mirth.” Hear in Fest’s singing the quiet pathos of humans and machines out of time. While Fest’s human creatures have lulled themselves into submission—”There may be something (virtually) / on fire. More likely our expectations are being met . . .”—his work nudges middle class late capitalist culture awake into the disturbing awareness that “a prolonged adolescence is the shape of things.”
–Robin Clark, author of Lines the Quarry
My second volume of poetry, The Shape of Things, is now available for pre-order from Salò Press. It will begin shipping September 1, 2017.
Nuclear and Environmental
Robin Bravender, “Trump Picks Top Climate Skeptic to Lead EPA Transition.”
Ian Johnston, “Climate Change May Be Escalating So Fast It Could Be ‘Game Over,’ Scientists Warn.”
Oliver Milman, “Donald Trump Presidency a ‘Disaster for the Planet,’ Warn Climate Scientists.”
Coral Davenport, “Donald Trump Could Put Climate Change on Course for ‘Danger Zone.'”
Noam Chomsky, “The Republican Party Has Become the Most Dangerous Organization in World History.”
Generation Anthropocene, “An Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson.”
xkcd, “A Timeline of Earth’s Average Temperature.”
Douglas Fox, “Scientists Are Watching in Horror as Ice Collapses.”
And Avery Thompson, “Scientists Accidentally Discover Efficient Process to Turn CO2 Into Ethanol.”
I am pleased to announce that another essay on videogames, “Metaproceduralism: The Stanley Parable and the Legacies of Postmodern Metafiction,” just appeared in Wide Screen. The essay is part of a special issue on videogame adaptation, edited by Kevin M. Flanagan, and includes articles by Jedd Hakimi, Cameron Kunzelman, Kyle Meikle, Bobby Schweizer, and Kalervo Sinervo. It’s also open access, so anyone can read it.
Abstract: Most critics of contemporary literature have reached a consensus that what was once called “postmodernism” is over and that its signature modes—metafiction and irony—are on the wane. This is not the case, however, with videogames. In recent years, a number of self-reflexive games have appeared, exemplified by Davey Wreden’s The Stanley Parable(2013), an ironic game about games. When self-awareness migrates form print to screen, however, something happens. If metafiction can be characterized by how it draws attention to its materiality—the artificiality of language and the construction involved in acts of representation—The Stanley Parable draws attention to the digital, procedural materiality of videogames. Following the work of Alexander R. Galloway and Ian Bogost, I argue that the self-reflexivity of The Stanley Parable is best understood in terms of action and procedure, as metaproceduralism. This essay explores the legacies of United States metafiction in videogames, suggesting that though postmodernism might be over, its lessons are important to remember for confronting the complex digital realities of the twenty-first century. If irony may be ebbing in fiction, it has found a vital and necessary home in videogames and we underestimate its power to challenge the informatic, algorithmic logic of cultural production in the digital age to our detriment.