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Matt Tierney

Matt Tierney

Assistant Professor of English

Office: 206 Burrowes Building
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

Office Hours:

  • Fall 2019
  • Tuesdays: 12:30-2
  • Thursdays: 1:20-2:50


  1. Ph.D. in Modern Culture and Media, Brown University, 2012
  2. M.A. in Literature, University of California-Santa Cruz, 2006
  3. A.B. with honors in American Studies, Cornell University, 1999

Professional Bio

My fields include literary and media theory, cultural studies, and the literature and film of the United States. My particular interest is in Twentieth-Century aesthetic interventions into the politics of race, gender, and technology.

My new book, Dismantlings: Words against Machines in the American Long Seventies, will be published by Cornell University Press in December 2019.
Dismantlings theorizes activist practices and experimental literature, seeking ways to criticize cosmotechnics after midcentury. Here as elsewhere, I theorize writers who are rarely considered together, like Martin Luther King, Jr., Ursula K. Le Guin, Alice Mary Hilton, Paul Metcalf, Janice Mirikitani, Toni Morrison, Carter Revard, Joanna Russ, Huey P. Newton, Harry Mathews and Georges Perec, Shulamith Firestone, Walter Abish, Philip José Farmer, and John Mohawk. Last fall, I was in residency at the Humanities Institute, pursuing a research project on presentism, Afrofuturism, and national criticism, with emphasis on writing by Pauline Hopkins, W.E.B. Du Bois, Samuel R. Delany, and Octavia Butler.

My first book, entitled What Lies Between: Void Aesthetics & Postwar Post-Politics (2015), explored formal experiments in literature and film that disrupt the myths of communication culture and consensus post-politics in the years following World War II. Reviewed in American Literature, the field's principal journal, the book was credited with "powerfully...rehistoricizing American studies to crack open the black box of technological mediation." I have also co-edited (with Mathias Nilges) an essay collection, entitled Medium and Mediation (2016), for the journal Postmodern Culture. My articles on literary and cultural politics appear in Configurations, Cultural Critique, Camera Obscura, Image and Narrative, and World Picture. Not long ago, I was interviewed on the topic of critical cyberculture for the Digital Culture and Media Initiative.

Next up, two new projects. One, Against the Present, theorizes speculative critiques of "the present" to untangle some current knots of technocentrism, neoimperialism, and racist nationalism. The other project, Megrim, develops a media theory of migraine headaches. In these and other writing, I trace the convergent interests of technology critique, continental philosophy, and activist literature.

Areas of Specialization

Contemporary Literature

Multiethnic fiction, activist poetry, novels about new media, intellectual histories of literary criticism

Media and Digital Studies

Medium theory, noncontemporary accounts of technological change, political critiques of computation and automation, intermediality, race and gender in technoculture

Theory and Cultural Studies

Genealogies of cultural and media theory, philosophies of technology, radical feminisms, racial justice, post-structuralism and semiotics

Visual Culture

Film poetry, radical film movements, theories of apparatus