2016 Wellek Lectures with Katherine Hayles
Department: Critical Theory at UCIDate and Time: May 20, 2016 | 4:00 PM-6:00 PM
Event Location: HG 1030
Katherine Hayles, Professor of Literature at Duke University, will present the 2016 Wellek Lectures
Lecture 3: "Precarious Narratives: The Risky Behaviors of Print Books No Longer Able to Tell Coherent Stories"
As print books increasingly fear for their future, experiments appear exploring what it would mean to lose the enduring staple of print literary production, long narrative fiction. David Markham’s 1988 print text Wittgenstein’s Mistress features as its protagonist Kate, a woman who believes she is the last living human on the planet. In a beach house, Kate sits typing words and sentences that she believes no one else will ever read, fragments that do not cohere into a plot but rather present as disconnected observations on the room, her body, her situation, and the nature of language and representation. Whether Kate really is the lone survivor or a victim of a mental dysfunction that makes her believe this is a less interesting question than the kind of experiment that the text undertakes: imagining how the world would appear to someone who inhabited the world described by Ludwig Wittengstein in the Tractatus. Pre-internet, the text presciently anticipates the world of relational databases, in which anything can be correlated with anything but causality—that necessary premise to narrative fiction-- remains elusive.