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Matt Tierney

Matt Tierney

Assistant Professor of English

Office: 206 Burrowes Building
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

Office Hours:

  • Spring 2019
  • Mondays 11:15-12:45
  • Wednesdays 5:35-7:05


  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 next 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. This 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.

Up next are two more books: one, entitled Unfinished and Half in Ruin: Critical Americanism and Technology Critique, will read literature that opposes nationalist and technologist futurism without succumbing to any post-national or post-technological fantasies; the other, a short book entitled Megrim: Mediating Migraine, will ask what textual theory of medium is appropriate to the way that physical and social bodies interface and interact, with particular attention to writing by Waldo Frank, Oliver Sacks, Nathaniel Mackey, Catherine Malabou, and others. In both projects, I pursue a continuing interest in the convergence and non-convergence of continental philosophy with the activist literary imagination, especially of the United States.

Areas of Specialization

Contemporary Literature

Multiethnic fiction, activist poetry, philosophy and literature, 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

Post-structuralism, form, critical cyberculture, anti-racist and feminist intersections, Americanism as ideology and method

Visual Culture

Film poetry, radical film movements, theories of apparatus