A leading literary theorist with expertise in cultural aesthetics, marxism, and psychoanalysis will deliver this year’s Culler Theory Lecture at Cornell’s Society for the Humanities. Anna Kornbluh, professor of English at the University of Illinois Chicago, will address "Immediacy: Some Theses on Contemporary Style" on Tuesday, March 7, from 5 – 6:30 p.m. in the Guerlac Room at the A.D. White House. A reception will follow. This event is free and open to the public and no registration is required.
Anna Kornbluh’s research and teaching focus is on the novel, film and critical theory, especially Marxism, psychoanalysis, structuralism and formalism. Kornbluh is one of the founding members of Humanities Works, a postering project designed to champion the value of a humanities education.
“Faculty and students majoring in liberal arts fields have consistently had to fight back against the idea that these majors are career dead-ends, or, worse, that studying English or history is something only students from wealthy families should do,” says the Humanities Works website.
“Anna Kornbluh is one of the leading literary theorists of our time, entwining Marxism and psychoanalysis in dazzling and often polemical new critical readings,” says Caroline Levine, professor of literatures in English in the College of Arts and Sciences. According to Kornbluh, the March 7 lecture will propose “a category for and periodization of contemporary cultural aesthetics…connect[ing] widespread negation of mediation and despecification of medium with the priorities of flow, speed and disintermediation in stagnating capitalism.”
Kornbluh is the author of several books, including “The Order of Forms: Realism, Formalism, and Social Space” (University of Chicago Press, 2019). A new book, “Immediacy, Or, The Style of Too Late Capitalism,” is forthcoming from Verso in 2023. Recent essays of Kornbluh’s reflect on the state of the aesthetic humanities, climate crisis and psychoanalysis. Syllabi for many of the innovative courses taught by Kornbluh—such as “Aesthetic Environments,” and “Thinking Big Thoughts with Literature”—are available on her website.
The Society for the Humanities hosts the Culler Lecture annually, as a form of acknowledging the Society’s ongoing legacy of promoting the value of critical theory.
In addition to the Culler Theory Lecture, Kornbluh will offer a lunchtime workshop March 7 from 12:30 – 2 p.m. for humanities graduate students, entitled “Reading Like a Marxist.”
“This workshop returns to two classics of dialectical cultural critique to explore some past and present questions about periodization and Marxist aesthetic theory,” Kornbluh says. “What should be our methods for cultural interpretation today?” Interested graduate students should email Alex McNeil (email@example.com) by Monday, March 6, to register for the workshop. Two readings will be sent in advance of the workshop. Lunch will be provided for all workshop attendees.
Alex McNeil is Events & Administrative Coordinator for the Society for the Humanities.