AMER Seminar: “Beyond Empty Homogeneity: Rethinking Serial Form”, Kyra Sutton, 4:30PM February 28 2024 (EN)

The Department of American Culture and Literature warmly invite you to: “Beyond Empty Homogeneity: Rethinking Serial Form”

Kyra Sutton

Date: Wednesday, February 28
Time: 16:30-18:00
Location: G-160

Abstract: Across literary studies, film studies, game studies, and critical theory, recent decades have seen a flurry of interest in “the serial”—a form dynamized by a tension between, to draw on Clare Pettitt, “the relation of parts and their separation.” Yet most of these treatments of the serial understand it, following the work of Benedict Anderson, as a quintessentially secular modern form functioning within “homogeneous, empty time.” Against this conceptual lineage, my presentation offers an alternative reading of the serial, examining the form as it operates beyond the secular, and thus reading for form to revise and re-vision our conceptions of the American present. To that end, I turn to Fred Moten’s All That Beauty (2019)—a poetry collection that can be characterized, I argue, by an iterative serial quality, and in which seriality is explicitly thematized. By focusing on the “cuts” of the serial—on that which lies between each term of the series—I offer a reading of the form that reveals it to be more than linear, continuous, and forward-facing. I thus see All That Beauty as an instance of heterogeneity and density within the American serial, reading the text not as a source of alterity to the present—as somehow non-contemporaneous or “premodern”—but as troubling our definitions of the secular modern and the serial itself.

Bio: Kyra Sutton is a PhD candidate in the department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is also completing a designated emphasis in Critical Theory. She teaches and writes at the intersection of contemporary Anglo-American literature, critical theory, and critical religion and secularism studies. Her current project, The Secular Undone: Contemporary Anglo-American Literature and the Question of Time, mobilizes critical theories of religion and secularism to examine the temporality of form in contemporary Anglo-American literature and interrogate the secularist assumptions of literary studies. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in CR: The New Centennial Review, qui parle, and edited volumes.