Saturday, March 28, 2009

Oh the Trials and tribulations...

Dear Readers,

To say that these last several months have been hectic and upending would be an understatement. But I'm here to assure you that my disappearance is over, although I will be without my macbook for a bit since I've had to send it off for repairs. I have planned a number of posts on a range of topics, including a few series: one about the current state of humanities (especially graduate) education, and another on the "home." Also, I'm planning at least two politically oriented posts, one of which will feature a return to my own juvenilia by re-engaging Melville's "Bartleby." And look for a post around Easter. In addition, I have been lucky enough to secure a few guest bloggers.

In the meantime, I've uploaded a full listing of UT-Austin affiliated folks who are participating in the Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo. Although I'm not on tap this year, I'm planning to attend. Speaking of conferences, I'm very excited about the upcoming "Glossing Is a Glosrious Thing: The Past, Present, and Future of Commentary," which will be April 9-10 at CUNY. I'm delivering my paper on the 9th at 1:30pm. I've included the original abstract below. As I said to Nicola back at the SEMA gathering, I'm still not thrilled about my own title (yet). I'm very much looking forward to spending a few days in NYC with some great folks, and then I'll be extending my leave a bit by visiting friends in New Haven and Boston. Can't wait to see everyone!

After Print: On the Biopolitical Marginalia of Affect and Attachment
This paper argues that prior to any semiotics of the page necessitating decipherment, there is always already an ontology of the page determining, via sets of anterior structural acts, the grids of intelligibility through which meaning might emerge. Supplementing Giorgio Agamben’s work with the recent efforts of Judith Butler and Lauren Berlant on attachment and affect, this paper aims to develop an optics wherein the book’s material status is shown to make possible more than its constituent materiality. Not only does the manner of our concernful relations to objects determine what those objects are but also the very legibility of these attachments is itself a structurated mode of being.

In Arts of Possession, D. Vance Smith posits that “writing histories of the forms of living requires us at least to understand practices of having” (xiii). But the morphology of these possessive practices obtains within a technological field of thought, wherein technology is never simply about the uses to which specialized tools and machines are put but refers to an entire comportment toward the world that alters our relations to that world’s constituent beings. To technologize is to install an optics of criterial control.

Glossing offers itself as particularly useful in thinking about the ontological structuring of presentative appearances. This paper considers what happens to the commentatorial apparatus of John Gower’s Confessio Amantis as it transitions from manuscript to printed page. What appears in manuscript as a single column Middle English text surrounded by rubricated Latin verse and marginalia becomes in Caxton’s printing a two-columned, typographically unified space that shifts the marginalia into the main text. Accounting for this presentative shift requires not a pre- to post-technological causality but an ontologically contingent relation disclosing how entities are made or possibilized as present. A book does something because something has been done to a book. Here glossing practices become a formed relation informing epochal shifts in the conditions for scenes of reading.
As I continuing writing the paper, I find myself leaning more on more not only on Agamben but especially on Heidegger.