The Extreme Contemporary

Two weeks ago I helped organize “The Extreme Contemporary,” a conference put on by the Center for the Study of the Novel. We had some excellent speakers and some very interesting discussions. I’m hoping to get podcasts of some of the talks up in the near future, but for now you can learn more on the event page.

One of my favorite talks was Alan Liu’s analysis of The Agrippa Project, an early new media “art book” that attempted to embody the ephemerality of digital production. Highlights included fading ink, DNA encoding and a diskette with a self-encrypting poem by William Gibson. He pointed us to a scholarly site that attempts to recapture some of the work’s original glory.

2 thoughts on “The Extreme Contemporary”

  1. I was excited to hear about the conference on the Extreme Contemporary, and sorry that I missed it. Scholars interested in the topic may want to look at Novels of the Contemporary Extreme (London: Continuum, 2006), a collection of essays which edited by Naomi Mandel and Alain-Philippe Durand.

    Novels of the contemporary extreme are set in a world both similar to and different from our own: a hyper-real, often apocalyptic world progressively invaded by popular culture, permeated with technology and dominated by destruction where violence, often the only stable quality, operates as ethos. The collection identifies and describes this international phenomenon, investigating the appeal of these novels’ styles and themes, the reasons behind their success, and the fierce debates they provoked.

  2. Thanks very much for your comment! I’m happy to report Stanford Library has the book; I look forward to checking it out.

    Amir Eshel in Stanford’s German program is doing some interesting work on similar themes. I took a seminar he co-taught with a law and a political science professor on terrorism that was quite interesting.

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