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Surplus Data/Surplus Subjects (NeMLA)

Boston, MA
Organization: NeMLA
Event: NeMLA
Categories: Digital Humanities, Literary Theory, Rhetoric & Composition, 20th & 21st Century, Cultural Studies
Event Date: 2024-03-07 to 2024-03-09 Abstract Due: 2023-09-30

Subtitled “Surplus Data,” the Winter 2022 issue of Critical Inquiry began by proclaiming that, “It is no longer enough to say that data is big. Data is now in a state of surplus” (Halprin et al. 197). As private and state actors rush to generate ever more surplus surveillance data about consumer-citizens and workers across domains of life, literary scholars are compelled to question how this data is made meaningful and by whom. After all, data never speaks for itself; it must be assigned value and transformed into narratives. These surveillance stories often reify “identities of suspicion” (Monahan), marking marginalized people as themselves surplus subjects. This panel seeks to examine the relationship between surplus data and subjectivity, and the stories that are told about and through Big Data. How do contemporary authors, artists, and filmmakers engage surplus data? How are their texts made to participate in the production of surplus data? How might artists, authors, and scholars resist the codification of supposedly surplus subjects by undermining, spotlighting, or otherwise subverting the stories of surveillance data?



Katherine D. Johnston