Department of English at Illinois State University

Spring 2012 Faculty Lecture Series

Featured Speaker -- Dr. Chris Breu

The Insistence of the Material: Theorizing Materiality and Biopolitcs in the Era of Globalization

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 12:00 noon to 1:30 in STV 128/133A.

Christopher Breu’s talk, “The Insistence of the Material:  Theorizing Materiality and Biopolitics in the Era of Globalization” is drawn from the introduction of his current book project, The Insistence of the Material: Literature in the Age of Biopolitics. In the presentation, Breu will argue for the importance of the recent “material turn” in cultural and critical theory as a way to move beyond the orthodoxies and complacencies of the “cultural turn,” which has been the dominant paradigm for work in cultural studies over the last thirty years. If the cultural turn argued for language and a seemingly all-encompassing conception of culture as the most cogent categories for theorizing the social, the material turn argues for the importance of attending to forms of materiality that exceed the cultural and linguistic. While the recent material turn holds much promise, it also needs to be rethought in even more materialist ways in order to engage effectively the material dimensions of everyday existence, particularly in an era in which economic and cultural production have become increasingly fascinated with the virtual, the immaterial, and the textual. Drawing upon different accounts of the emergence of immaterial production and biopolitics (the condition in which life itself is directly socialized) in the second half of the twentieth century, the talk will theorize the resistant dimensions of materiality in a world devoted to the idea of its easy malleability and transcendence. The forms of materiality theorized by the talk include: the body, the built environment, the object world, ecological materiality, and the insistently material dimensions of political-economic production in our globalizing world.

Christopher Breu is Associate Professor of English at ISU, where he teaches classes in twentieth and twenty-first century United States literature and culture, literature and culture in a global frame, and cultural and critical theory.  He recently was awarded a Fulbright grant at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario where he served as Research Chair in Globalization and Cultural Studies and completed a draft of The Insistence of the Material. He is also author of Hard-Boiled Masculinities (University of Minnesota Press, 2005).

If you have any questions about the event, please e-mail Mark Vegter of the Department of English Professional Growth Committee.

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Dr. Chris Breu.