This episode of Rhetoricity finds me interviewing Collin Brooke. In March 2015, Dr. Brooke was the featured speaker at The University of Texas at Austin's Digital Writing and Research Lab's annual Speaker Series. He was kind enough to sit down for two interviews--one for the lab and one for this podcast. In some ways, this interview builds on the other one; if you're interested in a little more context and conversation, then, you can find that lab interview here.
Brooke is an associate professor of rhetoric and writing at Syracuse University, the Director of Electronic Resources for the Rhetoric Society of America, and author of the book Lingua Fracta: Towards a Rhetoric of New Media. The talk he gave in Austin was entitled "Entropics of Discourse: Post/Human Rhetorics Amidst the Networks," and a video of it is available via the DWRL's YouTube channel. That talk is part of his current book project on rhetoric and networks, which is tentatively titled Rhetworks. If you're interested in more on networked rhetorics, you can also check out "Bruno Latour's Posthuman Rhetoric of Assent," Brooke's contribution to the recent anthology Thinking with Bruno Latour in Rhetoric and Composition. He'll also be leading a workshop on rhetoric and networks at the 2015 Rhetoric Society of America Summer Institute in Madison, Wisconsin.
In this interview, we talk about the concept of entropy and rhetoric's "master tropes," focusing specifically on the relationship between entropy and irony. We also discuss Rhetsy, a weekly email newsletter of "rhetorical miscellany" that Brooke curates.
In February, Laurence Rickels stopped by Austin, Texas. Dr. Rickels, who is the Sigmund Freud Professor of Psychoanalysis at the European Graduate School as well as Professor of Art and Theory at the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe, Germany, was in town as part of the tour for his latest book: Germany: A Science Fiction. During his visit, he also swung by UT-Austin's Digital Writing and Research Lab and was generous enough to sit down for the following interview.
In his new book, Rickels focuses on psychopathy as, quote, "the undeclared diagnosis implied in flunking the empathy test." He does so via an exploration of Germany's role in Cold War-era science fiction: from the Thomas Pynchon novel Gravity's Rainbow to B movies like 1962's The Day of the Triffids to the science fiction of Philip K. Dick. In addition to Germany, Dr. Rickels has written numerous works tracing connections between psychoanalysis, popular culture, critical theory, science fiction, and mourning. His books include The Case of California, The Vampire Lectures, a three-volume series entitled Nazi Psychoanalysis, and Spectre, in which Rickels turns his attention to Ian Fleming's James Bond. He's also the author of a recent article entitled "The Race to Fill in the Blanks: On (Animal) Testing in Science Fiction," which appeared in the 2014 issue of Philosophy & Rhetoric touched on in this podcast's premiere episode.
In our conversation, I ask Dr. Rickels about his use of the term "psy-fi," the impetus behind his new book, the relationship between his work and that of the late media theorist Friedrich Kittler, as well as the puns and juxtapositions that punctuate his pages.