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Secrecy and Virtuality

January 27, 2020 │ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

PIGOT HALL (B260), ROOM 216.

We are pleased to announce that on Monday, January 27th at 6pm we will be joined by Juan Esteban Plaza (Iberian and Latin American Cultures) and Jason Beckman (East Asian Languages and Cultures) for a discussion on their ongoing research. The theme of this upcoming event will be Secrecy and Virtuality.

Jason and Juan Esteban have shared the following descriptions of their talks:


Jason Beckman (EALC, Stanford)

“Virtualizing You, Actualizing Otherness”

Is it possible to be “present” in a work of literature? Though the novel as a genre often precludes the reader’s presence in the world of the text, virtual reality by contrast assumes the presence of the user in the virtual world. By examining the reader’s encounter with the “you” that appears in second person fiction as an embodied experience, it becomes possible to transcend the conventional fictional barrier between text and reader. The resulting reading methods provide insight into the fictional mechanics of contemporary authors such as Tawada Yōko and Furukawa Hideo, who invoke the second person pronoun to insert readers into unfamiliar and, at times, unsettling circumstances. Moments of virtual Otherness become embodied experiences, and the medium of immersive VR provides essential tools for understanding how the reader might actualize textual experience and step into the “you” who appears in the text.

Juan Esteban Plaza (ILAC, Stanford)

“Major and Minor Conspiracies. Rethinking Secret Communities and Communications”

In our current techno-political conditions, little space is left for interactions that could not eventually be surveilled by an exterior observer. We live under the impression that all private and secret aspects of our existence are available, while various figures of conspiracy pervade popular culture and media. In this occasion, I would like to explore the ambivalence expressed by the conspiratorial imagery. If, on the one hand, it offers condensed representations of the global bio-technical power, on the other hand, it epitomizes an extensive desire for community. What is the long history of grassroots practices of secrecy that could allow us to imagine networks of solidarity and resistance? Can art be a model for such practices and the other way around? Centering on processes of translation across media, I read the works of a group of Latin American transmedia artists to show the convergences between modern art and communal ways of life.


As mentioned above, the meeting will take place next Monday, January 27th at 5.45pm (discussion will begin at 6pm) in Pigott Hall (Building 260), Room 216.

Dinner and wine will be served. RSVP here (encouraged but not required).

For more information, email rwain@stanford.edu


January 27, 2020
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm