October 30, 2015
Lyman Hall, Room 211
In Performing Digital Digressiveness, Nick Salvato (Cornell University), asked “can a digressive spell open up paths to creativity and unexpected insights?” Engaging key texts from recent annals in “distraction studies,” Salvato argued that digressiveness may generatively inform both a working style and a working strategy.
Professor Salvato’s talk conceptualized digressiveness as an art of strolling and affirmed the combinations of pleasure and ambition, waywardness and direction, curiosity and concentration that mark digressiveness as an ongoing practice—and that gesture toward its dialectical interplay with an encyclopedic impulse. This interplay is modeled in the work of Denis Diderot, from whom he traced a nonce genealogy to contemporary experimenters in digital media like Rich Juzwiak. In the latter’s blog fourfour, the commerce between the haptic and the optic helps to coordinate its simultaneous courting of digressiveness and encyclopedism. It also offers instruction to the scholar who would, like and with Juzwiak, find in dispersion a special form of collection and in meandering an eccentric mechanism for staying an intellective course.
Nick Salvato is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Performing and Media Arts at Cornell University. He is also the author of Uncloseting Drama: American Modernism and Queer Performance (Yale, 2010), Knots Landing (Wayne State, 2015), and Obstruction, which is forthcoming in early 2016 from Duke University Press.