Haun Saussy and Olga Solovieva in Dunedin

From left to right: Olga Solovieva, Ulrich Timme Kragh, Haun Saussy, and Zhang Longxi in Dunedin, New Zealand, 10 October 2014.

From left to right: Olga Solovieva, Ulrich Timme Kragh, Haun Saussy, and Zhang Longxi in Dunedin, New Zealand, 10 October 2014.

I was lucky enough to host Haun Saussy, Olga Solovieva, and their three children in Dunedin during September and October. As the 2014 University of Otago De Carle Distinguished Lecturer, Haun delivered four brilliant public lectures in Dunedin, the first two of which are now available to download from the links below. The first lecture gives listeners/viewers a sneak preview of his book-length investigation into the rise of the concept of orality in twentieth-century thought.

“Oral vs. Written: The Curious History of a Cultural Distinction,” 18 Sept. 2014, MP4, MP3. Though it has become part of our common-sense understanding, the idea of a deep and comprehensive difference between the ways of thinking in predominantly oral and predominantly written cultures dates to the early twentieth century, at the most, and received its impetus from polemics now largely forgotten. By retracing this history, we can work out a genealogy for media studies that will accommodate a larger definition of the human.

“Doctoring the State: Plato, Hobbes, Humboldt, Hegel, Virchow,” 22 Sept. 2014, MP4, MP3. Western political philosophy, at its beginning (Plato’s Republic), introduces an analogy between medical treatment and political reform that, like all metaphors, has consequences on both the supposedly different domains that it incorporates. As long as the metaphor is viewed as a mere analogy, however, the practical relation of medicine to state survival is obscured. The historical development, through a series of political theorists, some of them physicians, explains the in-between status of the field of public health.

The photo above shows Haun and Olga with Zhang Longxi and Ulrich Timme Kragh, who also visited Dunedin in October for a symposium on comparative literature and interdisciplinarity. Recordings were also made of Haun’s and Longxi’s talks from this event and they should be available for download soon.

While in Dunedin, Olga also generously gave two wonderful talks on Kurosawa and Russia––from her forthcoming book on the subject. The image below is from her first talk, to Otago’s Department of Media, Film and Communications.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Carla Harryman and Barrett Watten reading in Dunedin

Carla Harryman and Barrett Watten reading at Circadian Rhythm Cafe, Dunedin, New Zealand

Carla Harryman and Barrett Watten reading at Circadian Rhythm Cafe, Dunedin, New Zealand

Audio and video recordings of Carla Harryman and Barrett Watten reading at Circadian Rhythm Café in Dunedin, New Zealand, on 9 July 2014 are now available for download at the links below. Both poets read individually, as well as giving a joint performance of an extract from The Grand Piano. Their reading was part of the Octagon Collective reading series, and their visit was supported by the University of Otago Comparative and Cross-Cultural Studies Research Theme.

Carla Harryman and Barrett Watten Dunedin Reading (MP3) (73.21 MB)

Carla Harryman and Barrett Watten Dunedin Reading (MP4) (211.45 MB)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Mikhail Iossel on Arkadii Dragomoshchenko in The New Yorker


Dmitrii Shubin, Aleksandr Skidan, and Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, 1992 (from the Borei Gallery archive)

Misha Iossel’s remembering of Arkadii Dragomoshchenko in a single sentence begins “Remember when … remember … remember how, thirty years ago, yes—after the requisite sum of money had been collected, in half-handfuls of small change and occasional crumpled rubles, for however many bottles could be afforded of whatever toxic, domestic ersatz port or esophagus-singeing Bulgarian dry red might be available that night at the basement liquor store diagonally across the darkly illuminated prospekt, five tall floors below; and then, after the eager young person dispatched to fetch the booze had returned to the loft, however many long minutes later, laden with bottles, winded but happy and greeted with discordant cheers…” The rest of Iossel’s “Sentence” is here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stephanie Sandler on Arkadii Dragomoshchenko as poet and photographer

the pin (tautology), © Arkady Dragomoshchenko (reproduction taken from Sandler’s essay on Jacket2)

Stephanie Sandler has a lovely piece on Jacket2 about the late, great poet Arkadii Dragomoshchenko’s work as both a poet and a photographer.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Diffraction and World Literature

Diffracted Waves and World Literature

Parallax has just released a new special issue devoted to “Diffracted Worlds – Diffractive Readings: Onto-Epistemologies and the Critical Humanities,” edited by Birgit Mara Kaiser and Kathrin Thiele. The special has essays from Karen Barad, Kiene Brillenburg Wurth, and Johnny Golding, amongst others. I’m very honoured to be in such company with a piece on “Diffracted Waves and World Literature,” my attempt to rethink Franco Moretti’s use of the wave metaphor for world literature through the concept of diffraction and to develop an alternative, iterative model for thinking about place and media in the context of globalization and digitalization. I develop this model through a consideration of Yang Lian’s collaboration with John Cayley on the transformation of his poem Dahai tingzhi zhi chu 大海停止之处 / Where the Sea Stands Still into a digital HyperCard and performance piece and, subsequently, a hypertext poem on the World Wide Web. You can view a short clip from Yang and Cayley’s 1997 performance of the piece at the ICA gallery in London here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Year’s Work in English Studies on A Common Strangeness

Jacob Edmond’s engaging study A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature makes an impassioned call for an increasingly global mindset for comparative literature. To do so, he opens with a striking engagement with and then redeployment of Fredric Jameson’s article ‘Postmodernism; or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism’ in The New Left Review before its expansion into his most famous book. Edmond notes Jameson’s references to China in the article and the San Francisco poet Bob Perelman’s poem ‘China’, followed by the recognition that any contemporary understanding of the notion of late capitalism or the logics of multinational capital today could not undertake the assumption of incongruency upon which Jameson’s emphasis relies. Thus propelled to a global scope, Edmond moves from Russian to Chinese, American to European, poetics. In order to explore the binary of commonness and strangeness that fuels his critical focus, Edmond links six avant-garde poets: Bei Dao (pseudonym of Zhao Zhenkai), Yang Lian, Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, Dmitri Prigov, Charles Bernstein, and Lyn Hejinian. This combines his study of poetics with a transnational project bridging China, Russia, and America. Charles Olsen also receives attention at several points in the book, as do Charles Baudelaire and Alexander Pushkin, and San Francisco as a poetic centre is also discussed, though given the subject matter it is perhaps surprising that Kenneth Rexroth does not figure (though this would create political and perhaps methodological conflict). The broader disciplinary matter of a transnational comparative literature in the rising moment of world literature plays an important role in Edmond’s theoretical work here, as do shifting discourses of globalization and the geopolitics of late-stage capitalism. There is much here to enliven comparative literary studies as well as the internationalization rather than community-studies orientation of American literary studies.

––From the “American Literature: The Twentieth Century” article in the latest Year’s Work in English Studies. Read the full article here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Josh Robinson on A Common Strangeness

The Current IssueIn the “Poetics” section of the latest Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory, Josh Robinson reviews a range of books on poetics published in 2012, including A Common Strangeness, which he describes as “sensitive and far-reaching.” The abstract for Robinson’s article appears below and you can read the full article here.

This chapter reviews a selection of the books on poetics published in 2012. Taking as its point of departure the variety these books display in their aim, approach, scope and even object of study, it considers the possibility of identifying commonalities between them. The chapter begins with discussion of two books published in the Verbal Arts series (FordhamUP), Kiene Brillenburg Wurth’s Between Page and Screen: Remaking Literature Through Cinema and Cyberspace and Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature. It then makes some tentative conceptual distinctions, before attempting to orient against these distinctions a wide range of books, including several that are not obviously related to the study of poetry. It then turns to the fourth edition of the Princeton Enyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, identifying some differences in its conception of the field of poetics with respect to previous editions of the Encyclopedia. It concludes with discussion of Alexandra Socarides’ Dickinson Unbound: Paper, Process, Poetics, Peter McDonald’s Sound Intentions: The Workings of Rhyme in Nineteenth-Century Poetry, and Reuven Tsur’s Playing by Ear and the Tip of the Tongue: Precategorial Information in Poetry, on the basis of which it makes some tentative suggestions as to the relationship between poetics and its object of study.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment