Post-Cinematic Realism — LeibnizWerkstatt, Leibniz Universität Hannover


On July 10, 2019, I will be giving a talk titled “Post-Cinematic Realism” at the LeibnizWerkstatt lecture series on Sprache, Migration, Vielfalt at the Leibniz Universität Hannover. Thanks to Radhika Natarajan for inviting me!


A Maussian Bargain: The Give and Take of the Personal Data Economy — Marion Fourcade at Digital Aesthetics Workshop

Fourcade Poster

We are pleased to announce the first Digital Aesthetics Workshop event for the Spring quarter – on Tuesday, April 23rd with Marion Fourcade, Professor of Sociology at UC-Berkeley. She will be discussing Marcel Mauss, data circulation, and how to describe the strange new market our information is sold on.

“A Maussian Bargain: the Give and Take of the Personal Data Economy”

Primitive accumulation in the digital economy – in other words, the appropriation of new kinds of data about people, organizations, and things and their transformation into a form of capital – has often been described, following David Harvey, as a process of “accumulation of dispossession.” Yet how can we reconcile this argument with the fact that enrollment into digital systems often takes place in a much more benign fashion, for instance by signing up for a “free” service, or by responding to a “friend’s” invitation? Daniel Kluttz (UC Berkeley) and I draw on interviews with the designers and builders of digital systems to document the technical, political, economic and cultural conditions of the circulation of personal data. We rely on anthropological theory, specifically Marcel Mauss’s classic essay on The Gift, to conceptualize the role of non-market exchange and reciprocity in the origins of what Zuboff (2019) calls “surveillance capitalism.”

Marion Fourcade is Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley. She received her PhD from Harvard University in 2000 and is an alumni of the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France. A comparative sociologist by training and taste, she has analyzed in her work national variations in neoliberal transitions, political mores, valuation cultures, and economic knowledge. Ongoing collaborative research with Kieran Healy looks at the rise, consolidation and social consequences of new classificatory regimes powered by digital data and algorithms. Other current projects include the microsociology of courtroom exchanges (with Roi Livne); stratification processes in the social sciences (with Etienne Ollion); and the politics of wine classification and taste in France and the United States (with Rebecca Elliott and Olivier Jacquet). Professor Fourcade’s work has appeared in American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Theory and Society, Socio-Economic Review, American Behavioral Scientist, Annual Review of Sociology, Journal of Economic Perspectives and other outlets. She is a recipient of the Lewis Coser award for theoretical agenda setting, the American Sociological Association’s Distinguished Book Award and the Ludwik Fleck prize for outstanding book in the area of science and technology studies (Society for the Social Studies of Science). Website:

COMING UP in the Digital Aesthetics Workshop:

May 14th + 15th: Colloquium

May 28th: Miyako Inoue

Desktop Horror: Screening Fear/Fearing Screens — JFK Institute, Freie Universität Berlin


On June 26, 2019, I’ll be giving a talk titled “Desktop Horror: Screening Fear/Fearing Screens” at the Culture/Literature Research Colloquium at the JFK Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin. Thanks to Frank Kelleter, Alexander Starre, and everyone else involved for inviting me and making this happen!

Images of Discorrelation — MECS/CDC, Leuphana University Lüneburg


On July 3, 2019, I will be giving a talk titled “Images of Discorrelation” at the Center for Digital Cultures/Institute for Advanced Studies on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation at the Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany, in the context of a research fellowship I’ll be doing there this summer. Thanks to Florian Hoof, Claus Pias, and everyone at CDC/MECS for making this happen!


The Horror of Discorrelation—Kristiansand, Norway


This week, thanks to a kind invitation from Julia Leyda, I have been in Trondheim, Norway, where I’ve led two workshops on videographic scholarship and pedagogy with Kathleen Loock and, today, gave a talk on “Screen Time.” Tomorrow, March 29, 2019, I will head down south, where I will be speaking on “The Horror of Discorrelation” at University of Agder in Kristiansand, Norway. Thanks to Ahmet Gürata for inviting me!

Talks and Events in Norway, March 2019


In the week of March 25 – 29, 2019, I will be giving several talks and workshops in Norway — first at the Deapartment of Art And Media Studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, and then at the Department of Nordic and Media Studies at the University of Agder in Kristiansand.

First, in Trondheim, on March 26 and 27, I will be participating on two workshops on videographic pedagogy and scholarship with Kathleen Loock.

Then, on March 28, also in Trondheim, I’ll be presenting work from my book project Discorrelated Images.

Finally, on March 29, in Kristiansand, I’ll be giving a talk on contemporary horror, also under the perspective of discorrelation.

Thanks to Julia Leyda for inviting me to Trondheim, and to Ahmet Gürata for the invitation to Kristiansand!


Can Computers Create Meaning? — N. Katherine Hayles at Digital Aesthetics Workshop


Coming up in a few weeks: N. Katherine Hayles will be joining the Digital Aesthetics Workshop to present some of her latest research. This session will take place in the Humanities Center Board Room, on Tues. Feb 12, from 5-7 PM. Her event is entitled Can Computers Create Meaning? A Cyber-Bio-Semiotic Perspective.

We anticipate a full event, so you must RSVP to this google form link. We will circulate Hayles’s paper, which she will briefly introduce and then invite conversation around it. Here is her abstract:

Can Computers Create Meaning? A Cyber-Bio-Semiotic Perspective

N. Katherine Hayles

One of the promising areas to understand how computers cognize is biosemiotics, a field that draws on C. S. Peirce’s semiotics to argue that all living organisms generate and understand meanings appropriate to their contexts, even plants and unicellular organisms.  Although these approaches by such theorists as Jesper Hoffmeyer, Wendy Wheeler, and Terrence Deacon have considerable explanatory power, they share a common blind spot in arguing that such signifying capabilities apply only to living organisms, not computers.  However, many of their objections to networked and programmed machines creating, disseminating and understanding meanings become moot if the relevant unit is considered to be human plus computer rather than either alone.  The human species, this paper will argue, is in the midst of entering into a deep symbiosis with computational media. Still incomplete, this symbiosis is akin to endosymbiosis, where previously independently living organisms unite into a single entity, as happened for example with the absorption of mitochondria by eukaryotic cells.  The paper will conclude by exploring the implications of this symbiosis-in-progress.