[iDC] introduction

Deborah Levitt levittd at newschool.edu
Wed Sep 23 21:56:33 UTC 2009

Hi All,

I’m  a colleague of Trebor’s in the Department of Culture and Media
Studies at Eugene Lang College, The New School, and I’ll be a
respondent at the upcoming conference.  Particularly at this close
range, it’s impossible to resist his very insistent inducements to
introduce myself to the list!  

While “labor” is not a central term in my research, my work
intersects with many of the concerns of the conference presenters around
questions concerning affect, attention, and the disposition of the
senses.   My current project looks at the roles of media (most
centrally, though not exclusively, cinema) in contributing to shifting
cultural definitions of “life,” whether these appear in the
explicitly biological—and biopolitical—domain of 1930s medical films
or as the more elusive, even hallucinatory, forms-of-life offered up as
dolls, automata and cyborgs in contemporary anime.   The overarching
polemic of the project involves questioning the manner in which science
is so often figured as a kind of final arbiter of the incessant
problematic, “life,” though--as our many theorists of biopower have
demonstrated--it is more properly political, philosophical, ethical, and
even aesthetic.  My real focus is, in fact, very much on this final
term—especially as it exists at and as the interface between the human
perceptual apparatus and the media-technical one.  I’m fascinated by
the kinds of liveliness, affect, sensation media artifacts and practices
engage and engender, and I think of my own approach as (extending
Deleuze) a kind of “media ethology.”   (None of this work is
available online at the moment, but you can find an article on Giorgio
Agamben’s work on media and biopolitics in Law, Life, Literature: The
Work of Giorgio Agamben (University of Edinburgh Press, 2009) and a
recent piece on affect and/in anime should be out in an anthology called
Waking Life, from B Books, Berlin, sometime soon--and I’d be happy to
share anything directly, of course.)  

I’ve read through some of the list threads and I’ve found the
discussions wonderfully interesting.  I’m  especially intrigued by the
conversation around the question of media periodization and Beller’s
CMP—but I should save this for another installment.

Looking forward to further conversation, and to meeting everyone at the


Deborah Levitt 
Assistant Professor 
Culture and Media Studies
Eugene Lang College
The New School
65 W. 11th St., Rm. 070
New York, NY 10011
t: (212) 229-5100 x2213
e: levittd at newschool.edu

More information about the iDC mailing list