Online Guest Lectures

Online Guest Lectures
term 2021/22

Wednesdays, 7 P.M., Zoom

 Online Guest Lectures American Studies

20 October 2021

Samuel Thomas (Durham): "The Devil's Party: Metal Music and Literature”

This lecture provides a selective overview of the relationship between metal music and literature. It aims to demonstrate the depth and diversity of the topic, while at the same time developing a more specific argument: that the distinction between ‘literary’ and ‘genre’ writing is crucial to conceptualising this kind of intermedial exchange. Whereas the feedback relationship between metal and (so-called) genre fiction is a well-established and fruitful one, metal’s love for the literary remains largely unrequited, especially when compared to other styles of music that share a historical association with anti-establishment danger such as punk and hip hop. Nevertheless, metal has drawn sustenance from literature since in its inception and the lecture explores some strategically chosen examples of these complex, richly creative borrowings and adaptations. It draws on a variety of mainstream and underground bands, including Mastodon and Watain, as well as original interviews with the vocalists Kat Katz and J. R. Hayes. A playlist will be made available beforehand.  

Dr Samuel Thomas is an Associate Professor in the Department of English Studies at Durham University. He is a specialist in modern and contemporary US fiction, especially the work of Thomas Pynchon. He is the author of Pynchon and the Political (Routledge, 2007) and is currently writing a book on metal music and US literature, entitled Feels Like Hell, for Intellect Books. 


3 November 2021

Taylor Hagood (Florida Atlantic University): “Undead Souths”

Undeadness - as ontology, trope, and metaphor - plays a central role in constructs of the United States South. From voodoo culture to the Southern Gothic to the Lost Cause to ecological renewability, the undead serves a range of to-hand functions in literature, film, television, comics, and other literary and cultural forms. This lecture contemplates undeadness both in the abstract and in its various southern incarnations. Alongside such classic writers as William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor, less-discussed and contemporary texts will be considered, including Alan Moore's Swamp Thing and the television series True Blood and the video game House of the Dead: Overkill.

Taylor Hagood is Professor of American Literature at Florida Atlantic University. He is the author and editor/co-editor of multiple books, including Faulkner, Writer of Disability (winner of the C. Hugh Holman Award for Best Book in Southern Literary Studies) and Undead Souths: The Gothic and Beyond in Southern Literature and Culture.


1 December 2021

Julia Panko (Weber State University, Utah): “Out of Print: Digital Literary Studies, Book History, and the Novel”

This talk considers how literary studies and media theory benefit from critical attention to the intersections between these fields. The first part of the presentation describes the key role that the examination of medial form has played in digital literary studies as well as book history, two areas that have become increasingly high profile in the past decade. The second part of the talk narrows in on the relationship between one specific literary genre—the novel—and one specific media format—the print book. This portion of the presentation argues that the novel may offer particularly useful insights into modern information culture. This is true both because of the novel’s longstanding archival drive, and because of experimental practices, developed by twentieth and twenty-first century novelists, that emphasize the print book’s materiality. These practices robustly critique the predominant conceptualization of information as formless, immaterial, and ephemeral.

Dr. Julia Panko is an Associate Professor of English at Weber State University, where she directs the Literature and Textual Studies Program. Her work explores the rich and complex intersections between literature and media culture, from the late nineteenth century to the present. Her first book, Out of Print: Mediating Information in the Novel and the Book, was published by the University of Massachusetts Press last year. She is currently working on a monograph that documents sound media’s impact on literary representations of the supernatural, titled The Audio Uncanny: Meditated Sounds, Gendered Voices, and Gothic Fictions.


19 January 2022

Nathalie Aghoro (Eichstätt): “On the Cultural Study of Video Game Ecologies”

Zoom link:

This lecture looks at the cultural impact of video games as a medium that brings interconnectedness to the fore—between people, media, and environments. It examines the relations that video games establish between the worlds they create and socio-ecological concerns in twenty-first century North America. First, this talk will explore aspects of interactivity in gaming and delve into the connections that video games establish between players, virtual worlds, and beyond. It will then zone in on an ecocritical discussion of selected games such as Never Alone and Horizon Zero Dawn to exemplify possible approaches to the cultural study of video game ecologies. 

Nathalie Aghoro is Assistant Professor of North American Literary and Cultural Studies at the Catholic University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt with an interest in auditory culture, postmodern and contemporary literature, media theory, and social justice. She is the author of Sounding the Novel: Voice in Twenty-First Century American Fiction and the editor of The Acoustics of the Social on Page and Screen. She is also on the editorial board of the De Gruyter book series Video Games and the Humanities  and a member of collaborative research initiative for the study of video games in American studies: “Playing the Field.”  


Please visit this website on the day to get the Zoom link for each lecture.

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