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Matt Tierney

Matt Tierney

Assistant Professor of English

Office: 206 Burrowes Building
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

Office Hours:

  • SPRING 2018
  • T 12:30-1:25 | Th 4:30-5:30 | by appt


  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 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. I have articles on literary and cultural politics, new or forthcoming, in Configurations, Camera Obscura, and Cultural Critique, and I have reviewed books about film for Film Criticism. Last year, I was interviewed on the topic of critical cyberculture for the Digital Culture and Media Initiative. Next fall, I will be in residency at the Humanities Institute, pursuing a research project on presentism, Afrofuturism, and national criticism, with emphasis on Pauline Hopkins, Samuel R. Delany, and Octavia Butler.

My new book, entitled Dismantlings: Cyberculture and Luddism in U.S. Literary Politics of the Long Seventies,
brings radical activist ideas to bear on speculative and experimental literature, and opposes both to the emergence of technocentric and globalist thinking after midcentury. Here as elsewhere, I theorize writers who are rarely considered together, like Ishmael Reed, Shirley Hazzard, Leslie Marmon Silko, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Pynchon, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Ursula K. Le Guin, Alice Mary Hilton, Paul Metcalf, Janice Mirikitani, Martha Rosler, Joanna Russ, Harry Matthews and Georges Perec, Helen and Scott Nearing, Joseph McElroy, Nathaniel Mackey, Shulamith Firestone, Walter Abish, Philip José Farmer, and John Mohawk.

Up next are two more books: one, entitled Unfinished and Half in Ruin: Americanism, Formalism, Technocritique, will read essays and fictions that criticize national and technological forms without giving into post-national or post-technological fantasies; the other, entitled Obliteratures: Figuration, Opposition, Medium, will ask what new theory of medium, and which oppositional poetic figures (obsequy, an affective stance that can, in Ralph Ellison's terms, "agree them to death and destruction"; obscurity, supposedly an error of expression but in fact a kind of training in epistemological difficulty; obstinacy, mere stubborness; and obliquy, Shakespeare's neologism for a speech act that is both slanderous and slantwise) can make noise in a time of political quietism. In both projects, I pursue a continuing interest in the convergence and non-convergence of continental philosophy with the activist imagination, especially of the United States.

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