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Algorithmic Neoliberalism and the World-System of Large-Scale Customization

Research Framework: Subjectivity

Marcia Klotz (UArizona English and Gender & Women's Studies)

Public Conversation
18 February 2021, 6-7:30pm

19 February 2021, 11am-12:30pm

The Lure of Fascism
Algorithmic Neoliberalism and the World-System of Large-Scale Customization

What does it mean to be “human” in the third phase of neoliberalism, one exemplified by algorithmic governmentality? Can we understand the lure of fascism as registering these changes in our collective experience-system? How might we construct an emancipatory alternative? This talk will propose three claims. First, our understanding of neoliberalization has been limited by our dependence on an overly developmental historical narrative. Our current moment is a combination of a nascent third-phase of neoliberal strategies that arose as a response to the 2008/11 crash and the last moments of a secular trend of centrist liberalism going back to the eighteenth century. Second, this phase is exemplified by the rise of a new form of subjectivity based on algorithmic governmental (Antoinette Rouvroy), one that has features different from the previously dominant (Foucauldian) understanding of power as productive and disciplinary. Third, drawing on recent architectural theory, we can approach the question of post-mass cultural/Fordist-era subjectivity through the onset of additive manufacturing and culture in the age of large-scale customization. For the arts and humanities, the implication herein is that our previously invoked semiotic models (the so-called linguistic turn) may also have decreased efficacy. What new kind of oppositional subjectivity might then be summoned?

Seminar Readings
Linked PDFs are password-protected.

Illustration of an algorithm from this 1998 paper.

Stephen Shapiro

Stephen Shapiro is the author and editor of seventeen book-length projects. His most recent work includes the collections, Neoliberalism and Contemporary American Literature (with Liam Kennedy); World-Literature, Neoliberalism, and the Culture of Discontent (with Sharae Deckard, British Association of Contemporary Literary Studies 2019 prize for best edited collection); Pentecostal Modernism: Lovecraft, Los Angeles, and World-Systems Culture (with Philip Barnard); and the MLA-CSE edition of Charles Brockden Brown’s political pamphlets (with Mark Kamrath and Maureen Tuthill). As a member of the Warwick Research Collective (WReC), he has co-authored, “Collectivity and Crisis in the Long Twentieth Century” in the current issue of MLQ.