Happy ‘pub’ days: Adamson, Finn, Long
Three Department of English faculty members announce new and forthcoming volumes of recent work: an environmental humanities journal special issue, a discussion of algorithms (in Italian), and an exploration of community rhetorical arts.
Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities 5:2 (University of Nebraska Press, Spring 2018)
Since the publication of "The Future We Want," the outcome document of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (dubbed Rio+20), there has been growing infrastructural support and funding for curricular innovation and programming in the environmental humanities. International researchers are increasingly advocating for the integration of humanities insights into codesigned and coproduced knowledge about anthropogenically caused change. But what forms will integrated or transdisciplinary codesigned research take? Can the humanities (which typically are characterized as weakly tooled to address social and environmental crises) catalyze imagination of new ideas, narratives, frameworks, alternatives, demands, and projects that will enable people to envision plausibly different, even livable, futures? This special issue of Resilience, "The Green Humanities Lab," will report and reflect on an ambitious Andrew W. Mellon–funded project called Humanities for the Environment, or HfE, which took place between 2013 and 2015. Each article in this issue discusses projects or initiatives the authors have been working on for two years or more.
Adamson is professor of English in literature (environmental humanities) at ASU, where she also directs the Environmental Humanities Initiative at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. She is the recipient of a National Humanities Center fellowship for 2019.
Che cosa vogliono gli algoritmi? Italian translation of What Algorithms Want (Einaudi, 2018)
Algorithms help us to navigate the streets of cities, to choose a book or a film, provide an answer to our every need. We believe in them as in a thaumaturgical formula that can unveil what we need to know and what we want. Ed Finn emphasizes how the algorithm - or "a method to solve a problem" - has its roots not only in mathematical logic, but also in cybernetics, philosophy and magical thinking. Algorithms therefore not only describe the world, but create it, reorganizing the chaotic daily reality with unpredictable, disquieting and sometimes fascinating results. Spacing from Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash to Diderot's Encyclopédie, from Adam Smith to Star Trek's computer, the author explores the gap between theoretical horizon and practical effects, examines the development of intelligent assistants such as Siri, the algorithmic aesthetics of Netflix, the virtual satirical game Cow Clicker, the revolutionary economy of bitcoins, the goal of Google to anticipate our every need and intention, the maps of Uber, the exponential growth of Facebook and much more.
Finn directs the Center for Science and the Imagination at ASU, where he is an associate professor with a joint appointment in the Department of English and the School of Arts, Media and Engineering. He is also co-editor of a new edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein published by MIT Press.
A Responsive Rhetorical Art: Artistic Methods for Contemporary Public Life (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018)
A Responsive Rhetorical Art explores the risk-ridden realm of wise if always also fallible rhetorical action—the productive knowledge building required to compose and to leverage texts, broadly construed, for the purposes of public life marked by shrinking public resources, cultural conflict, and deferred hope. Here, composition and literacy learning hold an important and distinctive cultural promise: the capacity to invent with other people new ways forward in light of their own interests and values and in the face of obstacles that could not have otherwise been predicted. Distributed across publicly situated strangers, including citizen-educators, this work engages a persistent challenge of early rhetorical uptake in public life: that what might become public and shared is often tacit and contested. The book’s approach combines attention to local cases (with a transnational student organization, the Nipmuck Chaubunagungamaug, and the South Sudanese diaspora in Phoenix) with a revisable guide for taking up wise action and methods for uncovering elusive institutional logics.
Long is an associate professor of English in writing, rhetorics and literacies at ASU. Grounded in community literacy, her scholarship draws on a wide array of rhetorical methods to test the limits and potential of day-to-day democracy under contemporary conditions.