The world is neither a grey matrix of objective elements, nor raw material for a sexy human drama projected onto gravel and sludge. Instead, it is filled with points of reality woven together only loosely: an archipelago of oracles or bombs that explode from concealment only to generate new sequestered temples. . . . This entails that all contact must be asymmetrical. However deeply I burrow into the world, I never encounter anything but sensual objects, and neither do real objects ever encounter anything but my own sensual facade. --Graham Harman, "On Vicarious Causation"
Nothing and no one is willing any longer to agree to serve as a simple means to the exercise of any will whatsoever taken as an ultimate end. The tiniest maggot, the smallest rodent, the scantiest river, the farthest star, the most humble automatic machines--each demands to be taken also as an end, by the same right as the beggar Lazarus at the door of the selfish rich man. --Bruno Latour, The Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy
There will come a time when it isn't "They're spying on me through my phone" anymore. Eventually, it will be "My phone is spying on me." --Philip K. DickAs Jeffrey recently shared here, he will be teaching a graduate course in medieval literature this semester with a focus on Agency, Objects, and the Constitution of Life. I, too, will be teaching a similar course, but one that constitutes the second course in a 2-course sequence in modern literary theory that my department requires of all M.A. in Literature students. So the emphasis will be on a lot of reading in theoretical texts and the literary component skews heavily to speculative and science-fiction literature and film. So, this isn't a medieval studies course, although some medieval and early modern scholarship is certainly in here!
Like Jeffrey, I wanted to do a course that would dovetail with GW-MEMSI's conference this March, "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and Objects in the Early Modern and Medieval Periods," and I can honestly say that putting the syllabus together pretty much wore me out, partly because I was delving into so many authors and texts with which I do not have what I would call "deep" familiarity. In other words, I will be encountering many of these texts for the first (or just second or third time) with my students, and I am looking forward to it, if I'm also a bit scared. Some of this may not work out as planned, partly because the "planning," so to speak, has been based on a lot of skimming and cursory reading and hoping that this will all somehow "gel." But I'm excited about it, too. The primary emphasis is on object-oriented studies, with ecology playing a prominent role, and with some side forays into critical animal studies and the post/human. I would love any feed back ITM readers might have:
ENG502 Modern Literary Theory: Objects, Actants, Networks
Here, also, is a comprehensive "working bibliography" that I have put together for the course, and as this is a dynamic, ongoing document, I would appreciate any suggestions for additions--I would like to see this grow over time and become a general resource for everyone interested in object-oriented studies, as well as in related post/human subjects:
Working Bibliography: Objects, Actants, Networks
In the meantime, before I get to plunge into the first session of this course, I'm off to London with Nicola Masciandaro, Michael O'Rourke, and Anna Klosowska for BABEL and the Petropunk Collective's inaugural Speculative Medievalisms "laboratory" at King's College London, the final program for which you can see here:
Speculative Medievalisms: A Laboratory-Atelier
I'm sorry to say [or am I happy to report?] that the event is completely booked with no seats left available, but to whoever will be in the audience, see you soon!