English Department Colloquium


11/21/2013 4:00:00 PM - 11/21/2013 6:00:00 PM

 English Dept. Colloquium with Erich Hertz and Keith Wilhite, 4:00 11/21 in SH 117

You are cordially invited to an English Department Colloquium to hear Dr. Erich Hertz present “Adorno, Noise, and the Turntablism of Philip Jeck” and Dr. Keith Wilhite present “Face the House: Suburban Domesticity and Nation as Home in The Virgin Suicides,” followed by informal discussion. 4:00, Thursday 11/21 in SH 117. All inquiring minds are very welcome to attend. Refreshments will be served. Abstracts of the talks are below.

Erich Hertz: “Adorno, Noise, and the Turntablism of Philip Jeck”

Theodor Adorno somewhat famously expounded on the problems of aesthetic experience and how music both reflects and constructs subjectivity. Combining both Benjamin’s analysis of “technological reproducibility” and Adorno’s argument about the historical necessity of dissonance and noise, I will demonstrate how noise productively illuminates both thinkers’ premium on excavating experience in modernity. I carry this analysis further by examining the work of turntablist Philip Jeck. Jeck takes noise as the building block of his aural constructions; specifically, he uses the distortions and ambient noise of the modes of recording itself as the foundation of his pieces; the crackles and pops of the vinyl on the turntable become the source for song structures. I argue that this music which is founded on the noise and detritus of technological reproduction itself extends and manipulates Adorno’s earlier confrontation with audio reproduction and refigures notions of experience in the contemporary world.

Keith Wilhite: “Face the House: Suburban Domesticity and Nation as Home in The Virgin Suicides”

I will discuss Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides as a new, suburban iteration in the tradition of American regionalism, as a work that addresses the complex place constructions that have shaped national politics and residential geography in the decades following World War II. The narrators’ obsession with the Lisbon family and home evolves into a meditation on isolation, containment, and the ideological privileging of suburban domesticity. As I argue, reading against the grain of the narrators’ voyeuristic project, we see how this narrative of a “local” tragedy extends to questions of the domestic, the foreign, nation, and empire across the Cold War era.