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Matt Tierney

Matt Tierney

Assistant Professor of English

Office: 206 Burrowes Building
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

Office Hours:

  • On leave Fall 2017


  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, gender, 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. Recently 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, and have new articles published or forthcoming in journals that include Camera Obscura and Cultural Critique. Last year, 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, Philip José Farmer, Charles Burnett, John Berger, and Samuel R. Delany. My third book will consider how idiosyncratic forms of structural irony might offer a challenge to theory and a tactic of literary politics. Tentatively titled Obsequy/Obliquy, this book will consider how a pair of poetic and rhetorical figures may yet make a noise in a time of political quietism: obsequy, an affective stance that can, in Ralph Ellison's terms, "agree them to death and destruction"; and obliquy, Shakespeare's neologism for a speech act that is both slanderous and slantwise. Texts will range even more widely, from Ellison and Shakespeare to Herman Melville and Randolph Bourne, to Vladimir Nabokov and Fran Ross, to Clarence Major and Peter Dimock, to Lydia Davis to Percival Everett.

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 world. Along these lines, I write and teach on canonical authors, like Walt Whitman, Paul Goodman, John Rechy, Orson Welles, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Stan Brakhage, Richard Wright, and Van Wyck Brooks; as well as contemporary makers including Teju Cole, Jennifer Todd Reeves, Roberto Bolaño, Alison Bechdel, and 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