Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Airport Seating, or Sitting in the Post-contemporary

This week I'm flying to Vancouver to give a paper entitled "The Elimination of Speed: Air Travel and Dead Time." The conference is for the American Comparative Literature Association, and the panel I'm on is called "Defining the Post-contemporary."

Here is the first paragraph of my paper:

In this paper I will suggest that the history of air travel has been caught in a representational bind around the functions and figurations of appropriate seating. This bind has to do with how air travelers experience time and space, and how these sensations are strategically enhanced or elided. Specifically, I wish to analyze literary and philosophical explorations of air travel, and I will also examine some material and visual culture of flight. My paper takes its cue in part from the media theorist Gillian Fuller, who argues that airports have become frames through which we visualize modern life. As Fuller writes, “The airport is, among many other things, a perceptual machine.” It matters not just what we see, but how we see (in) airports. What follows are notes toward a post-contemporary definition of air travel...

...and here's the two-sided handout I'll be referring to: