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Anna Kornbluh

Immediacy: or, The Style of Too Late Capitalism

Monday, February 5, 2024, 6:00–7:00pm

Seminary Co-op Bookstore, 5751 S Woodlawn Ave, Chicago, IL 60637

Please join us to celebrate Anna Kornbluh’s recent publication, Immediacy: or, The Style of Too Late Capitalism (Verso, 2023). Kornbluh will be joined in conversation by 3CT fellow Sianne Ngai.

Contemporary cultural style boosts transparency and instantaneity. These are values absorbed from our current economic conditions of “disintermediation”: cutting out the middleman. Like Uber, but for art. Immediacy names this style to make sense of what we lose when the contradictions of twenty-first-century capitalism demand that aesthetics negate mediation. Surging realness as an aesthetic program synchs with the economic imperative to intensify circulation when production stagnates. “Flow” is the ultimate twenty-first-century buzzword, but speedy circulation grinds art down to the nub. And the bad news is that political turmoil and social challenges require more mediation. Collective will, inspiring ideas, and deliberate construction are the only way out, but our dominant style forgoes them. Considering original streaming TV, popular literature, artworld trends, and academic theories, Immediacy explains the recent obsession with immersion and today’s intolerance of representation, and points to alternative forms in photography, TV, novels, and constructive theory that prioritize distance, impersonality, and big ideas instead.

Anna Kornbluh’s research and teaching interests center on the novel, film, and cultural aesthetics in theoretical perspective, including formalist, marxist, and psychoanalytic approaches. She is the author of Immediacy, Or, The Style of Too Late Capitalism (Verso, 2023), The Order of Forms: Realism, Formalism, and Social Space (University of Chicago, 2019), Marxist Film Theory and Fight Club (Bloomsbury “Film Theory in Practice” series, 2019), and Realizing Capital: Financial and Psychic Economies in Victorian Form (Fordham University Press, 2014). Essays on climate aesthetics, tv, academic labor, and psychoanalysis have appeared in venues like The Chronicle of Higher EducationThe Los Angeles Review of Books, Public Books, Diacritics, Differences, and Portable Gray. She is a member of the UIC United Faculty bargaining team and the editorial boards of Novel, Mediations, Genre, and Parapraxis, as well as the founding facilitator of InterCcECT (The Inter Chicago Center for Experimental Critical Theory), and a partner in

Sianne Ngai is an Andrew W. Mellon Professor of English at the University of Chicago and a fellow of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT). She is the author of Ugly Feelings (2005, Harvard University Press), Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting (2012, Harvard University Press) and Theory of the Gimmick: Aesthetic Judgment and Capitalist Form (2020, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press). Ngai’s work is most broadly concerned with the analysis of aesthetic forms and judgments specific to capitalism.

Presented by 3CT and the Seminary Co-op Bookstores.

This event is free and open to the public, and registration is recommended. Please email us at  if you require any accommodations to enable your full participation.