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WS: Jacob Edmond: The Copy in Global Culture.

When Jun 20, 2018
from 10:00 to 02:00
Where Phil I. Haus D, R. 309
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Everywhere the same story: our world is full of copies. The Internet is made of billions of pages and files ceaselessly copied between machines, and many of those pages are themselves copies, the products of cut-and-paste, hardcopy scanning, or remixing. Mash-ups of other texts, images, videos, and sounds in turn generate the millions of memes and remixes that everyday circulate online, producing yet more copies. Repetition is equally evident in the discourse and concrete products of the networked global economy. While science has long relied on the principle of repeatability, the terms iterative and even copying are now buzzwords of business, computing, and design. The manufacture of buildings, clothes, cars, computers, and countless other products involves ceaseless acts of copying that will only increase with the growth of 3D printing and the Internet of things. These diverse copies and copying practices range from Bach concertos to Donald Trump memes, One Direction fan fiction to modular buildings, game design to experimental physics. They are united by one thing: repetition itself.

Repetition has always played a role in culture, from the reiterated words that constitute language to the intricate rhythms of dance, music, and poetry. But never before have these repetitions been so overt and pervasive. If copying has become the dominant mode of cultural production, it is equally the condition of its distribution and consumption. Consumption itself becomes production when writers, artists, and social media users alike make their art and their personas through the selection and rearrangement of texts and images copied from elsewhere, whether in a book, a gallery space, an Instagram page, or a Facebook profile. Such repetitions on and offline also produce the transnational copying of cultural material that we call globalization.

Drawing on the diverse disciplines of its participants, this workshop sets out to investigate the pervasiveness of copying as cultural paradigm, historically and today, and to explore the utility of the copy as a framework for studying culture on a global scale. The workshop will explore how reading for a common form across languages and cultures might not so much obscure a text’s cultural particulars as reveal the complex and contested repetitions that constitute that text’s position in local and global history. To read in this way involves identifying and tracking copying practices as they circulate globally and in the context of unequal and contested cultural, economic, and political power and authority. In this way, the workshop seeks to develop an interdisciplinary mode of reading contemporary culture through the uses and pressures of the copy.

// Jacob Edmond works on theories and practices of comparison in modern and contemporary literature with a particular focus on generic and inter-art boundary crossing, new media, and globalization in avant-garde poetry in Russian, Chinese, and English. He is author of A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature (Fordham University Press, 2012), co-editor of Recentring Asia: Histories, Encounters, Identities (Brill, 2011), and co-editor and co-translator of Yang Lian’s Unreal City: A Chinese Poet in Auckland (Auckland University Press, 2006). His articles have appeared in such journals as Comparative Literature, Contemporary Literature, Poetics Today, The China Quarterly, and Slavic Review. He has recently completed a book manuscript entitled “Master Copy: New Media, World Literature, Iterative Poetics.” He is associate professor in English at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

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