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Contemporary Avant-Garde Publishing Communities in the Digital Age

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In this paper, which is based on one chapter in my forthcoming book Provisional Avant-Gardes (Stanford UP, July 2019), I will discuss a number of contemporary avant-garde projects that were published online but emerge from and remain in conversation with a long history of avant-garde communities of print. I argue that the imagined printedness in contemporary post-digital publishing allows editors and practitioners to expand definitions of ‘poetry’, the ‘book’, and the ‘magazine’, and thus to offer a publishing poetics of the now rather than the new. I suggest that these ‘magazine-ish’ projects as I call them (projects that are both like and unlike a print magazine) must also include digital audio archives of poetry, which resemble magazines in their production of serial content and their construction of an editorial identity and avant-garde community. I then explore the new connections between materiality, technology, genre, and sociality in these magazine-ish projects and on social media. Attuned to new digital modes of distribution and reception, a networked and interactive sociality emerges that is defined by a (supposed) hyper-immediacy and visibility. My talk will end with a reflection on the persistent question of hospitality for practitioners and scholars alike in such deceptively open and accessible publishing networks, in which the magazine becomes a vivarium and the page a metaphor.

BIO Sophie Seita is an interdisciplinary artist and academic whose practice spans text- and archive-based work, translation, performance, lecture-performances, and multimedia collaborations. She is the author of Provisional Avant-Gardes (Stanford University Press, 2019), is a JRF at Queens’, and is currently working on two new projects; a book on ‘literary live art’, and a series of lyric essays, tentatively called Lessons of Decal. Other critical writing includes articles on feminist hospitality in the Journal of Modern Literature and on contemporary digital publishing in the Chicago Review. She is the translator of Uljana Wolf’s i mean i dislike that fate that I was made to where (Wonder, 2015) and Subsisters: Selected Poems (Belladonna*, 2017), for which she received a PEN Award, and the editor of The Blind Man (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2017), named one of the Best Art Books of 2017 by The New York Times. Her poetry, translations, interviews, and performative texts have appeared in chapbooks, anthologies, and magazines; most recently in the artist book My Little Enlightenment (Chicago: Other Forms, 2019). Recent and upcoming readings and performances have taken place at Taller Bloc (Santiago, Chile), Kunsthalle (Darmstadt, Germany), the Royal Academy, the Serpentine, Bold Tendencies (all London), the Arnolfini (Bristol), La MaMa Galleria (NYC), and Cité Internationale des Arts (Paris). Her first solo exhibition, My Little Enlightenment Plays, will be shown at SPACE (London) in 2019.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Technology & New Media Research Cluster series.

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