April 26 — James J. Hodge

Please join us on Friday, April 26, 2019 at 11:00am in Cobb 311 for the second meeting of the Mass Culture Workshop for the Spring Quarter. We are delighted to welcome James J. Hodge, Assistant Professor in the Department of English and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities at Northwestern University. Professor Hodge will be presenting a talk entitled “The Subject of Always-On Computing.” An abstract is available below.

There will be no pre-circulated paper. Instead, we invite you to please watch Professor Hodge’s recently published video essay, “Touch”

We look forward to seeing you on Friday. As always, refreshments will be provided.

Yours in Mass Culture,

Cooper and Gary


Discussions of personhood in the context of always-on computing (the milieu of smartphones, social media, and ubiquitous wireless networks) typically casts personhood as deeply compromised, damaged, or somehow insufficient. This paper takes a different approach, which neither valorizes nor demonizes the subject of always-on computing, but rather seeks to account for the primacy of touch and sensation in our historical present. To develop a vocabulary appropriate to this situation, the paper argues that object relations psychoanalyst Thomas Ogden’s theorization of the “autistic-contiguous position” of subjectivity becomes newly vital. Along the way, the paper discusses the animated GIF and the supercut as two prominent sites for thinking through the aesthetic negotiation of these issues. This presentation is part of a new book project in development, tentatively entitled “Gifts of Ubiquity: The Aesthetic Sensorium of Always-On Computing.”

James J. Hodge is assistant professor in the Department of English and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities at Northwestern University. His book Sensations of History: Animation and New Media Art is forthcoming this fall from the University of Minnesota Press. His current research in digital media studies focuses on the rise of new networked genres such as the animated GIF and the supercut.

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