Session 5. Going Postal: Networks, Affect, and Retro-Technologies

2nd Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group

“cruising in the ruins: the question of disciplinarity in the post/medieval university”


Thursday, Sep. 20th 3:15 – 4:45 pm

Session 5. Going Postal: Networks, Affect, and Retro-Technologies

McLeod A.318/B.320, Curry Student Center

Co-Organizers: Jen Boyle (Coastal Carolina University) + Eileen Joy (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville)

Co-Presiders: Jen Boyle and Eileen Joy

This session will examine the question of network affects, specifically in relation to (re)turns to outmoded communication technologies, such as the postcard and the cassette mixtape. In what ways do these supposedly outmoded forms of communication serve as important switching stations or branch offices for affective-communitarian postal systems that participate in what Derrida would say is both a lack and an excess of address (The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond)? What is the historicity of various ‘postal systems’ (both real and imagined) and their relation to affect, as well as the ways in which they engage in what Derrida termed ‘postal maneuvering,’ where we see the entangled operations of ‘relays, delay, anticipation, destination, telecommunicating, network, the possibility, and therefore the fatal necessity of going astray’? How to think more strategically about the temporal lease-dates of certain ‘postal systems,’ especially in an age when the acceleration of everything has become so profound (such that, whereas celluloid cinema, now in its twilight, had a good run of over 100 years, DVDs have come and will likely be gone in less than 20 years, and the printed book, somehow, hangs on after 500 years)? How might we better explore how specific, networked engagements with older communication technologies (pre-Internet and even premodern) enable valuable ‘virtual’ spaces for what the social theorist Scott Lash calls ‘aesthetic reflexivity,’ and what affective communities and sub- or extra-institutional spaces might be crafted through networks relying on (re)turns to outmoded technologies, such as the letter, the book, the coded message, and so on?

“I nevere dide thing with more peyne / Than writen this”:Letters in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde

  • David Hadbawnik (University of Buffalo, SUNY)

Post By a Thousand Cuts: Hotel of Magical Thinking

  • Wan-Chuan Kao (The Graduate Center, CUNY)

Sir Orfeo in the Gutter: Repurposing an Old Story Through Found Objects

  • Emily Russell (George Washington University)

Return to Sender: Tracing the Ephemeral Networks of the Disputed 2009 Elections in Iran

  • Nedda Mehdizadeh (George Washington University)

A Miltonic January

  • Ahmed S. Bashi (Artist-Artifacter: YouTube Channel +

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