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Abstracts

Panel 1: Metamodernism and Liminality (Saturday, 10am - 11:15am)

Jake Pruett (University of Washington) "Agency and Ecology in Tom McCarthy’s C”

The increasing urgency of the climate crisis and the widespread acceptance of the Anthropocene has infiltrated the humanities in myriad ways. Perhaps chief among them is what I would call the ecological mode. This mode describes an epistemological shift, away from the purely mechanistic view of nature in favor of a systems view. It also describes an aesthetic shift, away from the 20th century preoccupation with language and representation in favor of materiality, the world, and its many interconnections. This mode coheres, in part, around ecological and environmental science—that is, organisms and their biotic and abiotic communities; but importantly, it performs this interconnectedness, moving between different objects in the ecological web, from the unfathomably large to the painstakingly minute.

 

This paper seeks to advance metamodernist research by developing this concept of the ecological mode through a reading of Tom McCarthy’s 2010 novel C, which appropriates modernist and postmodernist themes and aesthetic forms—the Bildungsroman, the mythic method, futurism, language games and fragmentation—for new materialist and ecological ends. I argue that despite McCarthy’s pervasive surface-oriented ecological maneuvering and mapping, he retains space for the humanist impulse towards the metaphysical, exhibited primarily in the protagonist’s incessant search for depth. Ecological transformations and interconnections in the novel are material and immanent, yet despite this profoundly materialist aesthetic, the human and the metaphysical remain an important grounding center. By focusing on the intersection of the environment, humanism and agency, and language, I will engage questions at the heart of the climate crisis and the Anthropocene, and in this way make my explication of the ecological mode salient for a general audience.

Zebadiah Kraft (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) "Monsters, Trauma, and the Metamodern: Explorations of the Zombie as the Shambling Image of the Precariat”



The most apt figure for the onslaught of metamodern oscillations and global reverberations in cultural and political upheaval, the metamodern zombie speaks to fears, anxieties, and potential all at the same time and in dizzying stride. The zombie and monsters are an understudied figure in metamodernism, though they provide a lens to magnify insecurities about a precarious future. A supremely malleable figure, the zombie now inhabits the mind of the reader/viewer as a peer, a person or persons who are not really any worse off than the rest of us as we compete to live in a precarious system. They may be dead(ish), they may be eating the flesh of their loved ones and ours, but they are just like us in too many ways—and we too close to becoming them at any moment—to dismiss them as abominations to be exterminated to save ourselves or our way of life. Rather than continue to focus on the zombie as the dangers of capitalist greed and accumulation, or as an Other hellbent on destroying or consuming what little remains of the world, the cultural sense has turned to being and becoming a zombie to survive. With the onset of a new cultural turn in the 2000’s, the apathetic laughable zombie or the hyperzombie tropes that gave reprieve from the horror of traumatic existence in the twentieth century have given way to a more sincere monster, one that explores the masses of infected as the potential of life outside the current system. The zombie is returning to communal, shared existence outside the dominance of capitalism and in favor of returning to a balance with the planet.

Rene Marzuk (University of North Carolina at Greensboro) "Darkness Revisited: The Magic of Liminal Spaces in Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Mohsin Hamid’s New York Times best seller Exit West is only partially the story of how Nadia and Saeed, the main characters, fall in and out of love against a background of migration. The 2017 novel is more of a state-of-the-world narrative that foregrounds migration from the global south to the global north as a central feature of contemporaneity, while also exploring the aftermaths of displacement. Hamid does away with the particularities of transnational movement by using the conceit of magical doors that appear spontaneously all over the world and allow passage between the most unlikely places. These doors invariably open to dark, impenetrable spaces described in one instance as “darker than night, a rectangle of complete darkness—the heart of darkness.” The novel’s references to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness are consistent enough to encourage an oscillatory interpretive movement between works, which is to say that Heart of Darkness becomes as much of a context for Exit West as Exit West becomes a context for Heart of Darkness. Rather than dismantling Conrad’s modernist narrative, Hamid revisits its signifiers and reconstitutes them under a different organizing principle. Taking the notion of “darkness” as the intersecting line between Exit West and Heart of Darkness shows how Hamid handles Conrad’s signifiers to connote a hopeful message and illuminates the interpretive possibilities of interstitial spaces. Within the context of metamodernism, Hamid’s rewriting of Conrad points toward meanings uncontained in either text, but only available in transit, as readers move back and forth between them. 

Monika Kaup (University of Washington) "Neuromodernism in Richard Powers’ The Echo Maker

Richard Powers’ The Echo Maker (2006) is an instance of a contemporary genre of the neuronovel, which updates the modernist stream-of-consciousness novel by incorporating recent advances in neuroscience. New brain imaging techniques have yielded unprecedented insights into neuronal activity correlated with specific states of mind.  Yet the so-called “explanatory gap”—how and why neuronal events in the brain transform into mental experience remains unknown—has given rise to further speculation, part of which takes novelistic form in so-called contemporary neurofiction. Mark Schluter, one of the protagonists of Powers’ The Echo Maker, develops a psychiatric condition known as Capgras syndrome as a result of a car accident-induced brain trauma. Because the nature of the disease makes its victims believe that their loved ones are impostors, Mark refuses to acknowledge his sister Karin, even though he recognizes that Karin looks and acts just like his sister. The accident takes place in Nebraska, in the setting of a section of the Platte river where thousands of sandhill cranes congregate every spring on their trans-continental migration to Alaska and northern Canada. Witnesses of Mark’s accident, the cranes become closely associated with Mark’s mental process after the accident. What psychiatry labels a mental disorder brings Mark, alienated from the human lifeworld due to brain injury, closer to the non-human, revealing how the human mind is embedded in a larger web of living beings. Abandoning individualism when traveling in flocks, cranes form a collective intelligence and agency. Emerging from coma, Mark’s disintegrated mind is shown to reassemble its fragments in similar ways in internally focalized passages whose language echoes the dynamic movements of the bird flock. My talk will discuss the cybernetic principles and specifically the enactivist concept of mind that inspires Powers’ contemporary novel of consciousness: the brain is a neural network, a crowd-sourced intelligence governed by the same principles of web-like organization as the collective mentality of cranes flocks on their seasonal migration. Brain function is a non-autonomous, dynamic and emergent phenomenon; the mind is not a thing, nor is it set over against a pre-existing world that mind is tasked to represent. In the enactivist view, consciousness is a process that brings forth world and self in the process of knowing. As I will argue, Power’s neuroscience-inspired psychofiction offers a compelling new variety of modernist concepts of mental fluidity and instability informing canonical stream-of-consciousness novels such as Virginia Woolf’s The Waves.


Panel 2: Place and Transformation in Metamodernism (Saturday, 1:45pm - 2:45 pm)

Mika Hallila (University of Eastern Finland) "Towards Meaning: Metamodernism and Totality”

In my paper, I will discuss the relationship of metamodernism and totality in contemporary fiction. I will both complement the metamodern theory with the concept of totality and introduce to the audience one Finnish metamodernist novel, Taivaallinen Vastaanotto (“Heavenly Reception”, 2022) by Jukka Viikilä. My theoretical framework is based on Vermeulen's and van den Akker's views on metamodernism; and the concept of totality will be defined with the reference to the young Georg Lukács (1916).  

The concept of totality can be used to highlight the different ways in which modern, postmodern and metamodern address the question of the meaning. Lukács argues that unlike in previous historical periods, when individual phenomena and existence acquired meaning and became understandable in relation to a closed and pre-given totality of existence, in modernity totality is hidden. However, instead of abandoning totality, the modern era continued to think in terms of it: lost meaning must be searched for, even if totality remains hidden. In contrast to the modern, postmodernism “waged war against totality”. Postmodern irony, play, and deconstruction detach themselves from the idea that there could be a truthful meaning behind phenomena.  
 

The metamodern theory suggests that contemporary culture seeks to surpass irony and recapture meaning. When defining metamodern epistemology, Vermeulen and van den Akker do not refer to Lukács but speak of a comparable “as if” thinking, which can mean that awareness of the absence of meaning does not prevent one from pursuing it as if it could be achieved. In this way, the metamodern attitude seems to both actualize and redefine the relationship with totality.  
 

To explore the relationship of metamodernism and totality in contemporary fiction, I analyze how the polyphony, multi-subjectivity and fragmentariness of the novel Taivaallinen Vastaanotto form an intersubjective network that implies a metamodern “totality”.

Dan Dubowitz and Antony Rowland (Manchester School of Architecture and Manchester Metropolitan University) "Urban Opera: Investigating Metamodernism Through Architectural Practice


 

This joint paper outlines a project that builds on recent academic debates about metamodernism by exploring their potential impact on creative practice, initially in the area of urban transformation as a collaboration between Dan Dubowitz (urbanist) and Antony Rowland (poet), and subsequently with a range of creative practitioners from Anthropology, Architecture, Art, Design and Photography. The paper has three elements. The first part consists of a dialogue between Dubowitz and Rowland about their overlapping but also diverging disciplinary conceptions of modernism. Subsequently, they discuss how a shared model of metamodernism could support practitioners in different disciplines to recognise and or build on the legacies of modernism in their practice. Dubowitz will present for the first time his "Are you a metamodernist?" test for creative practitioners. The second part of the paper showcases Rowland and Dubowitz’s action research, with a work-in-progress extract from the "urban opera" that they are co-developing for a live regeneration project to transform a post-industrial wasteland in Manchester city center. The paper concludes with a presentation of the next stage of their research, which is to collaborate with six artists from the disciplines listed above to co-develop scenes for the urban opera that will take place in the Mayfield area between 2022 and 2024. All these practitioners have expressed their interest—without having read any academic work so far on metamodernism—in the legacies of modernism, the waning of postmodernism and post-millennial matters of concern such as the climate and refugee crises.

Kasimir Sandbacka (University of Oulu) "Redreaming Europe: Intersubjective Dreaming as Metamodern In-betweenness in Jani Saxell’s Europe Series”

This paper explores the tension between a historical past and a speculative present in Finnish author Jani Saxell’s Europe series, which to date consists of three volumes: Unenpäästäjä Florian (2010, Dream Deliverer Florian), Sotilasrajan Unet (2014, Dreams of the Military Frontier), and Tuomiopäivän Karavaani (2017, Doomsday Caravan).  It discusses how intersubjective dreaming allegorically implies a historically determined European political unconscious that has both utopian and dystopian dimensions. It interprets the Europe series as a critical exploration of the ethos and praxis of the European project, but also as indicating a desire to rethink the past, present, and future beyond what is conventionally possible. This desire has rarely been as urgent as now, when History, prematurely declared to have ended, makes its dreadful comeback as war in Europe. This paper discusses the series in the context of ontologically pluralistic literature after postmodernism and explores how the series exemplifies metamodernism, a contemporary structure of feeling that oscillates between modern commitment and postmodern detachment. It proposes that the key narrative device the series deploys to represent the tension between realistic historical narration and the speculative present of the story world is dream narration, a form of metamodern in-betweenness that contributes to the reconstruction of historicity, depth, and authenticity after an era of postmodern deconstruction. Furthermore, this paper discusses metamodern theory in dialogue with what postmodern theorist Brian McHale has described as the science-fictionalization of contemporary literature.

 

Panel 3: Metamodernism in Popular Culture (Saturday, 3pm - 4:15pm)

Simon Radchenko (University of Turin) "More than a story: Metamodern Strategies in the Plot and Gameplay of Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding" (video game)

Talking about culture is a tricky thing. Now in some cases it is enough to say: “I feel that this is metamodern”, pointing at an artwork, novel or video game. However, the role of the humanities is not to pick the objects assigning them to any “-ism”. Vice versa, the humanities tend to understand the phenomenon and put it into a worldview coordinate system by thoroughly referring to a variety of specific manifestations.


This works well with metamodernism in literary studies: most of the features (oscillation, return of affect, “structural desire for “we”) are easy to identify and to reveal the metamodern nature of texts. However when we look for attributes of metamodern theory in cinema or photography, we need to consider not only the story, but also the narrative strategies used by the author. Speaking of video games, it is not enough to discuss the metamodern nature of the plot. It is more important to search for the ideas related to metamodernism in a specific gameplay mechanics.


Death Stranding, a recent Hideo Kojima’s work, is a perfect illustration of this idea. The post-apocalyptic action, which has been considered a masterpiece since the first hours of its release, presents some unmistakably metamodern ideas in the story it tells. Moreover, it contains a number of unique gameplay features that show what the metamodern video game is. Developing the notion about how metamodernism manifests itself in different fields is crucial for expanding our view of the cultural process instead of narrowing it down to the particular fields where the efficiency of this theory has already been proven. In addition, since virtual reality and post-apocalyptic stories uncover our common feelings and fears about the nearest future, they seem to be a great match to a discussion about what the contemporary culture is, in simple terms.

Graham Young (La Trobe University) "Through the Looking Glass: An Examination of Modern, Postmodern, and Metamodern Advertising from The Commonwealth Bank of Australia.”

Defined as a "Structure of Feeling" that oscillates between a typically modern and postmodern sensibility, metamodernism is a cultural paradigm that can help us understand emerging trends in contemporary advertising. For those unfamiliar with the modern, postmodern, and metamodern, this presentation will introduce what these terms mean as well as how we can understand them. This presentation will then examine the ability of advertisements to reflect important changes in our society and culture. Finally, this presentation will screen and analyze three audio-visual advertisements from The Commonwealth Back of Australia to highlight the differences between the modern, postmodern, and metamodern sensibility. For example, how the modern advertisement reflects a belief in linear progress, absolute truths, rational planning of ideal social orders, and the standardization of knowledge and production; how the postmodern advertisement reflects an increased awareness of the great diversity in human cultures and calls into question the possibility of any ‘universal’ or ‘privileged’ perspective; and finally how the metamodern advertisement perpetuates an epistemological as-if style of thinking, an ontological in-betweenness and oscillation, as well as a historical beyondness. In this way, this presentation is designed to be engaging and informative to a general audience as well as to the existing metamodern community.

Gia Milinovich (Central Saint Martins) "Identifying Metamodern Alienation in Apple TV+'s Severance

 

Apple TV+'s series Severance operates as a perfect analogy for our 21st century condition. Whether it’s the modernist idea of the human being separated from its working self or the unsettling Postmodernist state of temporal dislocation or the 21st century polychronistic production, set and costume design of the series that makes us want to exclaim: "I have no idea when we are, but it looks so cool…," Severance operates wonderfully as source of discovering knowledge about metamodern alienation.

 

The series touches on  ideas about alienation and the self from Marx to Mark Fisher, from Eric Fromm to Fredric Jameson. I will look at how after decades of understanding ourselves to be postmodern, fragmented "identities", our 21st century oscillation between the Real and Digital worlds has caused a resurgence of the Modernist/Marxist idea of the Ideal Self or a Perfect Life and how this dichotomy between being both/neither fragmented and split is causing a widespread feeling of alienation.

 

I’ve not seen any writing specifically looking at alienation and how it might be defined through a metamodern lens, so I hope my thoughts can open a door to this fascinating area. As alienation is a shifting, but fundamental part of what it is to be human, it probably should be considered in a 21st century context.


Daniel Vogel (Portland, OR) "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The 'Meta' in Metamodernism”

An ever-expanding body of work identifies the existence of a post-postmodern “structure of feeling” distinct from its modern and postmodern reincarnations. Crucially, as is to be expected in an intensely interdisciplinary academic domain which has now twice in a century had to assert/prove itself as a bona fide field of legitimate inquiry, much of this existing discourse on metamodernism and post-postmodernisms focuses specifically on the mere act of identifying the post-postmodern as dissimilar from its predecessors. In contrast, this paper will use the United State’s longest-running live-action comedy series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as an accessible touchstone with an everyday audience to reveal the form of the metamodern “structure of feeling” itself. Object-oriented ontology will reveal the origins of metamodern cultural logic in isomorphic, recursive relationships between child- and programming language- development. Image memes centered on Sunny and their use on social media will demonstrate both the formats and prevalence of the metamodern. The double frame of post-postmodern performatism will be revealed by both the heady varied post-postmodern analyses in-and-of-themselves and by the zany conflict structures of America’s most deeply institutionalized sitcom. In doing so, this investigation will demonstrate the “structure of feeling” central to metamodernism/post-postmodernisms as fundamentally recursive. With this architectural foundation in place metamodernism will need not necessarily derive its meta- prefix from the oscillation of “metaxis”; with the recursive nature of metamodernity revealed, metamodernism can squarely be primarily identified by and with the most colloquial meaning of “meta.”

 


Panel 4: Meta Issues in Metamodern Fiction, Art and Architecture (Sunday, 10:05am -11:05am)​

Sara Upstone (Kingston University) "Metamodern Spaces in Contemporary Fiction”

In their "Notes on Metamodernism" Vermulen and Akker say that the metamodern "should be understood as a space-time that is both-neither ordered and disordered. Metamodernism displaces the parameters of the present with those of a future presence that is futureless; and it displaces the boundaries of our place with those of a surreal place that is placeless." For Alexandra Dumitrescu in her essay "Interconnections in Blakean and Metamodern Space," this metamodern spatiality produces a literary work in which space can be defined as "a set of maps under continuous revision." In this paper, I consider these ideas of metamodern spatiality in the context of three examples from contemporary fiction: Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth, Hanya Yanagihara’s To Paradise, and Richard Powers’ Bewilderment. Evidencing many metamodern characteristics, these novels nevertheless complicate existing models of metamodern spatiality, drawing attention to space as what Edward Soja defines as a thirdspace that is ‘simultaneously real and imagined’. Functioning metonymically, space for contemporary writers constructs a simultaneity between worlds that foregrounds what we refer to as transglossic meaning: a speaking across positions and places that is constructed in the service of a radical authorial commitment to issues of social equality, ethical responsibility, and environmental justice.

Paula Romero Polo (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) "Spanish Metamodern Fiction: Cristina Morales’ Easy Reading as a Case Study”

 

In my Ph.D. project, I use the metamodern vernacular to analyze recent Spanish fiction, paying particular attention to its depiction of contemporary society. This presentation aims to outline the main goals and theoretical difficulties involved in this endeavor. 

Firstly, I will discuss the possibility of using the term "metamodernism" in countries, like Spain, which lack a postmodern tradition. Secondly, I will vindicate that the Spanish literary movement that has been labeled "post-15M fiction" can be considered to be part of the metamodern sensibility, because of its particular interest in contemporary political reality. Finally, I will analyze Cristina Morales’ latest novel, Easy Reading, to show my method of analysis. 

 

This presentation has three main goals. Firstly, to prompt the study of cultural objects from countries that lack a strong postmodern tradition through the lenses of metamodernism. Secondly, to vindicate the importance of the sociopolitical context while discussing metamodernism. Lastly, to discover, for scholars and for the general audience, young Spanish authors whose works can be considered metamodern.  


Cesar Cornejo (University of Leeds) "Puno MoCA and the Question of Metamodernism in Latin America”


When I studied architecture in Lima in the 1980’s, I was taught in the architecture history classes, to admire the feats of the great modernist architects from Europe and the USA, although I could also literally see from my classroom window, the signs of an overwhelming internal migration from the rural areas to the city, which advanced in the capital devouring everything, in the capital city and its surroundings, leaving behind a sequel of shanty towns and human settlements.


In the design ateliers I was also introduced to Postmodern ideas, which were presented as the vindication of the local cultural values after the modernist era, but while looking at the shanty towns through my classroom window, I kept asking myself, what modernism are we reacting to, and what sense did it make to talk about postmodernism.


As an artist since 2007, I have been developing the Puno Museum of Contemporary Art, a project which proposes to create a museum model which departs from the Latin American reality, rather than from the imposition of foreign models, which the countries don’t have neither the institutions nor the resources to bring them to fruition. Puno MoCA proposes to use unfinished houses of low income areas in the town of Puno Peru, offering their owners to make repairs for free, with the condition that in exchange they allow the museum to exhibit works of contemporary art in the repaired spaces for a period of time. During the exhibitions, visitors can enter the houses and interact with the neighbors. When the exhibitions end, the artworks are taken down and the spaces return to their normal functions.


Through this submission, I propose to present the Puno MoCA project, as a response to the question of, How can we talk about Metamodernism in a place where Modernism and Postmodernism, never really happened?



Panel 5: Metamodern Visual Art and Architecture (Sunday, 11:20am - 12:20pm)

Rositsa Bratkova (UACEG, Sofia) "Metamodernist Features in the Architecture of Sir David Chipperfield”
 

Contemporary architecture offers plenty of good examples that are significantly metamodern, however,

it remains only little explored. Three case studies of projects by David Chipperfield form the material for

the presentation - the Neues Museum in Berlin, the James Simon Gallery, and the Jumex Museum in

Mexico City. Architectural drawings and photographs of the buildings are thoroughly examined and

certain repeating design principles are revealed that are neither purely modern, nor strictly postmodern,

but rather have features of both. The buildings are further discussed in their context where their formal

etymology could be traced.

In conclusion six metamodern aspects of Chipperfield’s architecture are revealed: an air of timelessness;

a return to materiality and the strong physical presence of architecture; reintroducing of craftsmanship

in a restraint manner; democratization of architectural space; oscillation between contradicting

categories; and a restored interest in beauty as an aspect of architecture. The presentation could

facilitate further defining the metamodern manifestations in contemporary architecture and give better

understanding of some design principles in the work of sir David Chipperfield.


James Benedict Brown (Umeå University) "Hedonistic sustainability and the timber tower”
 

In 2019 and 2021, two timber skyscrapers were completed on opposite sides of the Scandinavian peninsula. At 85 metres, Mjøstårnet (Voll Arkitekter, 2019) in Brumunddal, Norway was briefly the tallest timber building in the world, and at 80 metres, Sara kulturhus (White arkitekter, 2021) in Skellefteå, Sweden was the second. Mjøstårnet and Sara kulturhus are gaining international attention for pushing the boundaries of the so-called ‘Scandinavian effect’ (Bonner & Kara, 2020), one that combines the quintessential Nordic building material (Mäntysalo & Nymanbe, 2000) with a new sensibility: one that tries to acknowledge the environmental impact of making buildings while at the same time reinvigorating the tarnished image of the skyscraper. This paper positions itself against this newly emergent literature about the environmental consequences of contemporary architecture and the established body of research on Metamodernism.

Jenny Eden (Manchester Metropolitan University) "Metamodernism, Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Painting”

This paper advances existing research on metamodernism and contemporary painting to examine correlations with psychoanalysis and a cascading oscillatory expansion. Extending Timotheus Vermeulen & Robin van den Akker’s exploration of painting’s oscillatory characteristics in the current milieu (2010), the paper argues metamodernism is inherently psychoanalytic because paintings are embodying complex psychological simultaneities as artists “come to terms with their unconsciousness” (ibid., p9) through process and depiction.

Understood in the context of psychoanalytic simultaneity, the research highlights the interdependence of oppositional thinking and embodiment in many of today’s paintings, especially in forms of ‘new-figuration’ developed since the millennium. Thus, it situates the necessity for contradiction as a propelling mechanism (Turner, 2011) to move painting forward, beyond exclusively spinning (post-modern) or self-referential (modernist) situations to futures where the medium is involved in ‘forever becoming’ (Bergson, 1910) due to co-existent opposites imbued in its (now) identity-being.

The research also critiques metamodernism’s "query simplistic" binary position to present the idea that "in reality" – in the paintings we make like the lives we encounter (including our own) – each side of the dualism generates further complexity cascading down from an original opposition. Showering into multiple fragments and a complex arrangement of opposites, the constant fluctuation-friction between positions (in the bounce) leads to snowballing multiples disappearing into the ether. A postmodern re-enactment in conjunction with modernist transparency, this psychoanalytically affiliated binary can always be seen through the conversation between tiny oppositional fragments.​


Panel 6: Applied and Performed Metamodernisms (Sunday, 12:35pm -1:35pm)

Benjamin Broadribb (University of Birmingham) "The ‘New Depthiness’ of Hamlet(s) in Lockdown”
 

My paper focuses upon three adaptations of Hamlet created and performed online during the COVID-19 pandemic: an episode of Elliot Barnes-Worrell’s Instagram series Thinking Out Loud: Quarantine Shakespeare, released in April 2020;[1] an episode of the web series Shakespeare Republic: #AllTheWebsAStage (The Lockdown Chronicles) directed by Sally McLean, released in September 2020;[2] and The Show Must Go Online’s production, directed by Rob Myles, performed live via Zoom and streamed to YouTube in August 2020.[3] All three adaptations are infused with the cultural moment of lockdown: performed at home by isolated individuals using domestically sourced props and costumes, and streamed or recorded using smartphones, laptops and video conferencing software.

 

It is my assertion that digital performances and adaptations of Shakespeare created during the pandemic regularly offer examples of metamodernism, which has been put forward as the dominant cultural logic of the opening decades of the twenty-first century, succeeding late twentieth-century postmodernism. Cultural theorist Timotheus Vermeulen argues that a key feature of the metamodern sensibility is a ‘new depthiness’,[4] in contrast to the ‘new depthlessness’[5] which characterized postmodern works. Hamlet is a character who has regularly been depthlessly (de)constructed in modern popular culture through caricatured tropes and memetic afterlives. Adapted and performed during the pandemic, my paper argues that Hamlet gained a metamodern ‘depthiness’ in the productions of Barnes-Worrell, McLean and Myles, as creatives explored the character’s affective potential anew.

 

[1] Available online: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-_81BsH7Nn/

[2] Available online: https://www.facebook.com/ShakespeareRepublic/videos/613287789352362/

[3] Available online: https://youtu.be/QIDkPcYdSG0

[4] Vermeulen, Timotheus (2015) ‘The New “Depthiness”’, in e-flux journal, issue 61. Available online: <https://www.e-flux.com/journal/61/61000/the-new-depthiness/> [accessed 25 October 2021]

[5] Jameson, Fredric (1991) Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham: Duke University Press, 1992), 6.

Katie Elson Anderson (Rutgers University) "Metamodern 'Jawn'"

Jawn is a word unique to the city of Philadelphia, PA. It is defined in the urban dictionary as “Philly slang meaning just about anything”. It is generally used as a substitute for any person, place or thing. Philadelphians are known to use the word jawn several times within the same sentence, each instance with a unique meaning. Thus, jawn can be described as a word that in the words of local poet Walt Whitman, contains multitudes. The line, “I contain multitudes”  from Whitman’s “Song of Myself, 51” has recently gained popularity as a way of “expressing the beautiful, desperate contradiction of being human in a digital era” (Carlick, 2020). This desperate contradiction of the human experience online, with its oscillations between hope and melancholy, irony and sincerity, can and has been described as metamodern. Like its slang word jawn, Philadelphia also contains multitudes, often contradictory. It is known as the “City of Brotherly Love”, but, ironically, is also known as the city where Hitchbot, (a social experiment of a hitchhiking robot intended to explore the relationship between humans and robots) met its untimely demise. It is a city whose sports fans are notorious for bad behavior but also celebrated for their faith and loyalty. Within these multitudes are several metamodern things, or jawns. Gritty, the mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers, exists as both a leftist icon and a corporate mascot simultaneously. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is a television show that takes place in Philadelphia and  has been described as a beautiful show about horrible people. Steak-Umm is a local food product which has gained popularity through its metamodern brand twitter. This paper will talk about these and other examples of metamodern jawns and will seek to interrogate the notion of geographic metamodernism.

Jason Josephson Storm (Williams College) "The Advancement of Metamodern Knowledge"

Postmodernism used to be regularly identified as a species of cynical reason or shadowy cleverness that held any positive claim to be a fraud that thinly veiled the machinations of power.

Fortunately, many metamodernists have now reject postmodern skepticism and called for some form of humble knowledge. But unfortunately, many of the very same metamodernists seem to be defaulting into a “modernist” inductivism to produce that knowledge. Concretely, many metamodernists spend their time identifying this or that cultural production as metamodernist in its sensibility often by arguing that it is “oscillating” between modernist or postmodernist modes. This whole mode of reasoning is a step backward. It often leads to what we could call the “no true metamodernist fallacy” in which all generalizations about metamodernism are protected from falsifying counter examples. It would seem that any given culture form could be identified as metamodernist. This is an unnecessarily weak foundation for our collective endeavor.
 

This talk will address these epistemological issues and argue for “zetetic abduction” as a better way to produce humble knowledge. First, it will teach listeners how to be skeptical of skepticism and why that actually helps rather than prohibits the advancement of knowledge. Second, it will communicate some of the problems with inductive generalizations and why they caused many empirically oriented projects to run aground. Third, the bulk of the talk will provide concrete (abductive) inferential approaches for the generation of knowledge without certainty and show how this licenses better predictions and inferences. In effect, I want to use this talk to demonstrate how metamodern zeteticism enables us to work through and past cynical reason and toward the advancement of emancipatory knowledge.