Notes from 10.1.2015

Ethan Reed

Posted on 01 Oct 2015

Today we’ve discussed the best ways to organize how we share our thoughts: blog posts, memos, the single line “What We’re Working On” at… the site you’re on right now! And divvy up who is doing what.

So far on case studies:

James discussing the use of a stemmata in textual studies, documenting “family trees.” He brings up one article that proposes a new model of stemmata and how it embeds multiple chronologies … hence his arrival at the term “deep chronology,” which started as a joke but now is starting to be much more (as things do sometimes). Then giving a discussion of Graphviz, thinking about how a computer tries to visualize these kinds of things. This reminds me of 2013-2014 Praxis Fellow Zach Stone’s post “On Stemmatics” once upon a time. The phrase “time girdle” was used in how our narratives tend to become constricted in certain ways … not sure I can summarize it. Perhaps more a provocation than a technical term?

Ethan continuing with what started with Wai Chee Dimock, more or less how the institution of English literature in the academy deals with time: periodization, institutional time, so on and so forth. Brought in a book called The Concise Oxford Chronology of English Literature, looked at how the crudest form of historicism was possible in the way that it organized major historical events with the publication of novels, plays, books of poetry, etc.

What I want to know: how can we make a chronology, or something like this, of English literature that doesn’t look like this (a synchronic slice of historic time)? It’s one thing to conceive of different organizing principles (like genre for Dimock, specifically chapter four in Through Other Continents) but how do you put that in a physical codex and make it both intelligible and useful to students as well as scholars?

Lydia brings up postmodern jukebox … whether you like it or dislike it, maybe can link back to the idea of a mashup as a kind of timeline, chronology, etc.?

Bremen thinking of ethics and time, how we recreate narratives or chronologies of events in something like police reports, or other kinds of documenting of incidents. Which links to Gillet on thinking about how disciplines and cultures understand the past (concrete vs. fluid and so on). How how we historicize marginalized peoples - all this makes me think of Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Silencing the Past.

James again on ‘shallow chronology’ vs. ‘deep chronology’ … made me think of (here comes orals reading again) the way Linda Hutcheon responds to something like Fredric Jameson’s understanding of postmodernism: where in Jameson’s Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capital he says (from what I recall) that in postmodernism art has lost its sense of real history in a way that is problematic, whereas in Hutcheon’s A Poetics of Postmodernism postmodernism spoils the idea of any pure understanding of history or grand historical narrative (like Marxism), such that any engagement with history is necessarily an engagement with something constructed (hence the irony) though writers still want to engage with it because they believe it matters.

Lydia sharing how her case study is going, starting with Go-go music (like this Chuck Brown song). Talking about how the genre has been / is being institutionalized in the academy. Question: if an alien species came to Earth, how would you describe the time of Go-go music? How do you get this beat and represent it ethically given the context in which it is produced, African-American communities in DC - specifically around U-Street? (Bremen brings up an Atlantic article on gentrification in DC, which I think is this one but could be wrong).

James brings up bibliography, working with physical traces, but also imagining evidence as in D. F. McKenzie’s “Printers of the Mind” and other ways of performing empirical bibliography today and thinking about how we recover traces of book production.

Gillet talking about how history or time can be materially invested in architecture, building (like the projects in DC, back to go-go discussion).

James on Rob Nixon’s Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor: “In his depleted uranium chapter which I loved…”