Guest lecture: Peter Boxall

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The Modern and Contemporary Colloquium (MACC) of the Department of English at NYU is delighted to announce its second guest lecture of the Fall 2016 semester. On Wednesday November 10th at 6pm in Room 306 of 244 Greene St., Professor Peter Boxall (University of Sussex) will give a lecture entitled ‘Starveling Prose: History, tautology and biomatter in the later fiction of Don DeLillo.’ The lecture will last approximately 50 minutes, at which point attendees will be invited to participate in a seminar-style discussion of the lecture with Professor Boxall.

Click here for a link to Peter Boxall’s bio and research interests on the website of the University of Sussex, where he is the Deputy Head of the School of English and a Professor of English in the Centre for Creative and Critical Thought.

The lecture is open to all. Wine and nibbles will be provided. If you have any questions about the event please email Richard Porteous (richard.porteous@nyu.edu).

About the lecture:

This paper suggests that DeLillo’s later prose, from The Body Artist to Zero K, develops a singular formal mechanism for tracing the relationship between history and the embodied subject – one that derives from a forensic, minimalist attention to the work of tautology.

DeLillo has been interested in tautology from his earliest writings, an interest that is particularly manifest in the Wittgensteinian poetics of End Zone, and this interest has always turned around the possibility that tautology might give us access to a kind of latent historical force, one which cannot find expression by other means. But in his later work, the paper will suggest, the tautology, or more precisely the incomplete, assymetrical tautology, assumes an increasingly central importance. From the odd repetitive clauses crafted by Mr Tuttle in The Body Artist (a character whose very name carries an echo of the tautology), to similar enclosed and self-referring speech acts that run through Point Omega and ‘The Starveling’, these late fictions fall repeatedly into the strangely evacuated space of the tautology. In doing so, they enact a kind of exhaustion, perhaps, a kind of failure of expression that is a familiar constituent of late aesthetics. But the paper will suggest that these oddly unbalanced structures do not simply perform a vacuity or failure of reference, but contain the possibility of a new way of thinking about the pressure that history exerts on the body – a new way of thinking about the relationship between history, aesthetics, and contemporary biomatter.

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