Dan Clinton

email: dclinton@uchicago.edu
homepage: home.uchicago.edu/~dclinton

Dan Clinton would probably tell us more about himself if he weren’t dreadfully afraid of transforming his internet persona into some sort of super-hero alter-ego. He insists that his life is devoid of juicy biographical trivia and best presented with the cool detachment afforded by anonymous third-person prose.

Sources reveal that Clinton is currently a lowly undergraduate studying English Literature and Classical Languages. He commonly denies accusations of post-modernism, claiming that what he does is more “high-velocity formalism” (or some such nonsense), but no one really believes him anyway. He takes a particular interest in formal analysis of poetry (with a taste for the Renaissance and the 1920s), the evolution of narrative perspective (both in and across works), and the works Herman Melville, though his preoccupation with pulp cinema and comic books has led him to Media Theory.

At the intersection of Media Theory and literary analysis, Clinton is principally interested in the evolution resulting from the predator/prey and parasite/host relations between literature and theory. That authors incorporate theory into the work both allusively and mechanically is old news, as is the resonance between texts and theoretical models. “Symbiosis is boring,” says Clinton, characteristically resorting to metaphor before argumentation, “It’s much more exciting when books try to kill and eat each other. Then again, theoretical selection has given rise to a sort of evolution?”

Clinton maintains that for certain texts – in particular most comics and graphic novels – theorization will “trigger violent immune responses, activate countless organic self-defense mechanisms, or even trip an inbuilt self-destruct sequence.” We have all seen texts vanish under the critical eye, leaving only a hollow around which will fit ideas concerning fetishization or spectatorship. Where these ideas possess value, they also constitute a theory of cultural negative space. One need look no farther than re-runs of Mystery Science Theater 3000 to observe that cult spectatorship relies on idiosyncratic modes of encryption. The answer is not a fan-boy school of theory (no one wants that), but rather a theorization of the textual antibodies.

He also secretly hopes that someone will write an essay entitled “Capitalism’s Aurafice: Joseph Cornell and the Aesthetics of Waste Matter” or a musical piece entitled “Godzilla vs. Gamelan.”


Chicago School Media Theory: Reading List

Media Theory Keywords Glossary: genre

Taxonomy of Media: model

Theories of Media Annotation: Deleuze and Guattari’s “Rhizome,” in A Thousand Plateaus

Theories of Media Guest Presentation (2004): “Genre and Medium: A Detective Story”

Theories of Media Prospectus: “Chris Ware’s Nostalgia Machines”