The theme of the 2021 summer institute in media aesthetics is “structures of experience.” In his 1977 book Marxism and Literature, Raymond Williams briefly entertains the phrase “structures of experience” as an alternative formulation of his now-famous notion of “structures of feeling.” This year’s summer institute takes inspiration from this phrase’s suggestive resonance with a range of contemporary topics from structural racism to media infrastructures and from the substitution of ‘experience’ for ‘feelings,’ which might hint at a consideration of modes of living beyond conventional notions of feeling anchored in individuals and toward dimensions of life informed by algorithms, social media, and institutions in ways that challenge, in turn, received conceptions of subjectivity and collectivity. Moreover, in the wake of a year spent on zoom, we hope that the keywords “structures” and “experience” will feel newly fresh and perhaps even open-ended and ready for new thinking. Put otherwise, how must we understand the historical present given the tumultuous events of the very recent past?
On Zoom, Thursday, May 20, 2021, 11 A.M.- 1 P.M. C.S.T
Gandhi and King insisted that nonviolent action was both morally and practically superior to the use of force in waging political conflict, overcoming oppression, and advancing social change. And yet the political or practical logic of nonviolence remains obscure and/or controversial, despite the continued global prevalence of nonviolent protest.
I explore the theoretical underpinnings of the politics of nonviolence to better understand how and why nonviolent protest (1) uses tactics of disruption on a mass scale, (2) dramatizes injustice and dissent through forms that display and perform discipline, (3) tries to persuade and provoke crises through direct action.
A presentation and dialogue on two recent books on digital culture and aesthetics:Experimental Games: Critique, Play, and Design in the Age of Gamification by Patrick Jagoda (University of Chicago) and The Play in the System: The Art of Parasitical Resistance by Anna Watkins Fisher (University of Michigan).
The Play in the System explores what artistic resistance looks like in the twenty-first century, when disruption and dissent have been co-opted and commodified in ways that reinforce dominant systems.
Experimental Games draws on the history of economics, affect theory, media theory, and game studies to explore video games as cultural counterparts of neoliberalism and as experimental forms that can complicate this paradigm from the inside out.
‘Theory of the Gimmick– Aesthetic Judgment and Capitalist Form’ by Sianne Ngai (English, University of Chicago)
Mark Greif (English, Stanford University) Joseph Jonghyun Jeon (University of California, Irvine) Leigh Claire LaBerge (The City University of New York)
Repulsive and yet strangely attractive, the gimmick is a form that can be found virtually everywhere in capitalism. It comes in many guises: a musical hook, a financial strategy, a striptease, a novel of ideas. Above all, acclaimed theorist Sianne Ngai argues, the gimmick strikes us both as working too little (a labor-saving trick) and as working too hard (a strained effort to get our attention).
Writer, journalist, and cultural critic Zha Jianying will present and discuss her five-part essay, China’s Heart of Darkness: Prince Han Fei and Chairman Xi Jinping, a study of the legacy of Chinese Legalist philosophy and its influence on the rule of Xi Jinping. This essay was published in China Heritage, July 14-22, 2020.
Loubna El Amine, Political Science, Northwestern University Geremie Barmé, College of the Asia & Pacific, Australian National University Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Contributing Editor at Indian Express, formerly vice-chancellor of Ashoka University
Organized by the CGCC in collaboration with the CTS, this webinar is part of a larger series of conversations ‘Questioning The Present’, a forum on contemporary issues.