Welcome. I teach U.S. literature, science and technology studies, and digital humanities at the University of Arizona. My research examines the roles of science and technology in post-1945 U.S. literature and culture.


Recent Writing

Talks and Travel

  • 7 March 2019 ACLA, Washington, D.C.: “Helen DeWitt’s Product-Cycle Fiction” on “Genres of Neoliberalism” panel
  • 26 March 2019 Center for American Literary Studies Spring Symposium, State College, PA: “Corruption”
  • 17-20 October MSA, Toronto, ON: “Only Connect, Again: E.M. Forster and Zadie Smith, Networking”, on “Modernism, Information, and the Contemporary” Roundtable
  • 9-12 January 2020 MLA, Seattle, WA: “Character Networks and Collectivity: Yamashita and Lethem,” Prose Fiction Division panel, “Beyond the Individual”
  • 19 March 2020 Arizona Quarterly Symposium, “Collectives in the Network Society: The Shape of Democracy in Karen Tei Yamashita’s I Hotel

Research

Human Programming

My first book, Human Programming: Brainwashing, Automatons, and American Unfreedom, was published by the University of Minnesota Press in August 2016. It examines how ideas about manipulating human behavior have circulated between scientific, literary, cinematic, and political culture in the U.S., from World War II to the War on Terror. The book shows how novelists and filmmakers have used the figure of the “human automaton” as a means of exploring the meanings of democracy, totalitarianism, and fundamentalism.

I talked about Human Programming for exactly 90 seconds on WAMC Public Radio’s Academic Minute and for about an hour with Carl Nellis of the New Books Network. The Los Angeles Review of Books ran a review, “No Mind to Lose: On Brainwashing.” The book was a finalist for the 2017 Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Kendrick Memorial Book Prize, and it received an honorable mention for UC Riverside’s 2017 Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Program Book Prize.

Social Medium

I’m currently at work on a second book, tentatively titled “Social Medium: American Fictions of the Network Society.” It examines how contemporary U.S. novels pose questions about media technology, connection, and action through their use of a formal feature I call the character network. This web of connections between characters, a feature of all fiction, becomes the site of sustained reflection for American fiction since the 1980s, when networks became a dominant metaphor in business discourse, communications media, and political and critical theory. More than other new media forms, literary fiction uses these networks self-reflexively to explore how facets of the self in the contemporary U.S.—our identities, privacy, creativity, and agency—are defined by our positioning within social networks. Borrowing from qualitative sociological work in network analysis, “Social Medium” explores how the shape of a social world, fictional or otherwise, might constrain and enable self-expression, cooperation, and action.

I’ve published two articles from the book in progress. The first, “The Bechdel Test and the Social Form of Character Networks” claims that Alison Bechdel’s popular feminist test for films offers the beginnings of a theory of community in fictional narrative. The second, “The Novel and WikiLeaks: Transparency and the Social Life of Privacy,” describes fiction’s model of privacy not as an aspect of individual interiority, but rather as the power to manage information among different groups of people. Other chapters in progress consider recent fiction about creative work in the context of business networking discourse, and fiction and academic work that depict and reflect on grassroots political movements.


Selected Publications

Pre-print drafts at Humanities Commons

Recent Reading

The Watchman in Pieces: Surveillance, Literature, and Liberal Personhood
The Sellout
The Girls
Infomocracy
The Argonauts
Stories of Your Life and Others
Ripley Under Ground
Ripley's Game
The Talented Mr. Ripley
The Official World
Site Reading: Fiction, Art, Social Form
Making Literature Now
24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep
Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction
Network Aesthetics
Cool Characters: Irony and American Fiction
Seveneves
Submergence
The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation

Contact

Scott Selisker
470 Modern Languages
1423 E University Blvd
P.O. Box 210067
Tucson, AZ 85721
selisker@email.arizona.edu
@sselisker on Twitter