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Matt Tierney

Matt Tierney

Assistant Professor of English

Office: 206 Burrowes Building
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

Office Hours:

  • Spring 2017
  • Tuesdays 10:30-noon
  • Thursdays 12:30-2


  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 media theory, cultural studies, American fiction, and film. My particular interest is in Twentieth-Century aesthetic interventions into the politics of race, sexuality, and technology. 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. Just 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 also recently co-edited (with Mathias Nilges) an essay collection, entitled Medium and Mediation (2016), for the journal Postmodern Culture, and have new articles published or forthcoming in journals that include Camera Obscura and Cultural Critique. This summer, I was interviewed on the topic of critical cyberculture for the Digital Culture and Media Initiative.

My next book, entitled A World of Incomparables: Critical Cyberculture and Communicative Globalism, examines a political and aesthetic dynamic of
the so-called "Long Seventies." This book looks at major figures of the period who are rarely considered together, like Shirley Hazzard, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Pynchon, Alice Mary Hilton, Paul Metcalf, Joanna Russ, Georges Perec, Helen and Scott Nearing, Nathaniel Mackey, Shulamith Firestone, Walter Abish, John Mohawk, Ursula K. Le Guin, John Rechy, Stanley Elkin, Joseph McElroy, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Stan Brakhage, Philip José Farmer, Charles Burnett, John Berger, and Samuel R. Delany. My third book will consider structural irony as a challenge to theory and a tactic of literary politics. Tentatively titled Irony Now!: Cultural Radicalism and the Impossibility of Being Earnest, this book will range even more widely, from Herman Melville, Randolph Bourne, and Vladimir Nabokov to Percival Everett, Lydia Davis, and Alison Bechdel.

I have a continuing interest in the convergence and non-convergence of continental philosophy with the activist imagination of the United States, as well as elsewhere in the English-speaking world. Along these lines, I write and teach on canonical authors, like Walt Whitman, Ralph Ellison, Paul Goodman, Orson Welles, Richard Wright, Robert Altman, and Van Wyck Brooks; as well as contemporary makers from Peter Dimock to Teju Cole to Jennifer Todd Reeves to Kara Walker.

Areas of Specialization

American Literature After 1900
experimental and political writing, racial figuration, genre studies, film as text, literature and technology, anarchist fiction
Contemporary Literature
social-movement writing, philosophical fiction, transnational literatures, structural irony, novels about new media
Theory and Cultural Studies
post-structuralism, form, critical cyberculture, anti-racist and feminist intersections, Americanism as ideology and method
Visual Culture
media studies, film theory, aesthetics and politics of Hollywood, negativity and visuality, poetics and world cinema