Title TBA:
Thursday, February 21st 5:00-6:00 p.m.
at Chao Auditorium
Ekstrom Library

One of the most influential cultural theorists to emerge over the last two decades, Sianne Ngai is professor of English at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Ugly Feelings (Harvard, 2005), which investigates the aesthetics and politics of non-prestigious, non-cathartic negative emotions (envy, irritation, paranoia, disgust), and of Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting (Harvard, 2012), which argues for the contemporary centrality of three everyday, vernacular aesthetic categories, treating them with the same philosophical seriousness as others have treated the beautiful and sublime. Our Aesthetic Categories won the MLA’s James Russell Lowell Prize for Best Book of 2012 and a Ray and Pat Browne Award for Best Primary Source Work from the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association (2012-2013). Sections of both books have been translated into Swedish, Italian, German, Slovenian, Portuguese, Japanese and (forthcoming) Korean. Ngai has also co-edited a special issue of Critical Inquiry on comedy with Lauren Berlant. Her current project, Theory of the Gimmick, explores the uneasy mix of attraction and repulsion produced by the “gimmick” across a range of forms particular to capitalist culture. In 2014-15, she received a year-long fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin, to develop this work. In 2015, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate (D. Phil) in Humanities from the University of Copenhagen. Visit my website


Title TBA:
Friday, February 22nd 5:00-6:00 p.m.
in Room 100
Bingham Humanities Building

Poet, performer, and librettist Douglas Kearney has published six books, most recently, Buck Studies (Fence, 2016), winner of the CLMP Firecracker Award for Poetry and silver medalist for the California Book Award (Poetry). His collection of writing on poetics and performativity, Mess and Mess and (Noemi, 2015), was a Small Press Distribution Handpicked Selection that Publisher’s Weekly called “an extraordinary book.” His third poetry collection, Patter (Red Hen, 2014) examines miscarriage, infertility, and parenthood and was a finalist for the California Book Award in Poetry. It was preceded by his debut collection, Fear, Some (Red Hen, 2006), and the National Poetry Series selection The Black Automaton (Fence, 2009). Someone Took They Tongues (Subito, 2016) collects several of Kearney’s

libretti, including one written in a counterfeit Afro-diasporic language of which M. NourbeSe Philip writes: “[it] meets the anguish that is english in a seismic, polyphonic mash-up that disturbs the tongue.” Guest editor for 2015’s Best American Experimental Writing (Wesleyan), Kearney has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, and residencies/fellowships from Cave Canem, The Rauschenberg Foundation, and others. Raised in Altadena, CA, he lives in California’s Santa Clarita Valley and teaches at California Institute of the Arts.

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Title TBA:
Saturday, February 23rd 5:00-6:00 p.m.
at The Cressman Center
100 E. Main Street

Lynn Keller is the Martha Meier Renk-Bascom Professor of Poetry, director of the Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE), and the Bradshaw Knight Professor of the Environmental Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she has taught in the English department for more than thirty years. She is the author of  Re-Making It New: Contemporary American Poetry and the Modernist Tradition (Cambridge, 1987); Forms of Expansion: Recent Long Poems by Women (Chicago, 1997); Thinking Poetry: Readings in Contemporary Women’s Exploratory Poetics (Iowa, 2010); and Recomposing Ecopoetics: North American Poetry of the Self-Conscious Anthropocene (Virginia, 2017). With Cristanne Miller, she co-edited the essay collection Feminist Measures: Soundings in Poetry and Theory (Michigan, 1994). Further editorial work includes her long-time involvement with the journal Contemporary Literature as a board member or as the primary editor for poetry, and her co-editorship of the Contemporary North American Poetry Series for the University of Iowa Press. She was honored with the Chancellor’s Teaching Award in 1987, filled a five-year term as a senior fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at UW-Madison, and has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Association of University Women, and the Simon John Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Visit my website