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Summer Institute 2021: Media Aesthetics 3

Media Aesthetic III: Structures of Experience

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?