Talking American Literature at Uppsala: "Three Days in May with Michael Szalay"

  • Date:
  • Location: Engelska parken See programme below.
  • Lecturer: Professor Michael Szalay (University of California-Irvine).
  • Organiser: Department of English, Uppsala University
  • Contact person: Daniel Kane
  • Seminarium

As part of the Fulbright Intercountry Lecture Program, professor Michael Szalay (University of California, Irvine) will provide a lecture and participate in round-table discussions over the course of three days.

Szalay's research in 20th- and 21st-century American literature, politics, television, and film is internationally well known. Szalay's works including his first two books Hip Figures: A Literary History of the Democratic Party and New Deal Modernism: American Literature and the Invention of the Welfare State cross boundaryes between literature, liberal governance, media, politics and economic history. 

All of the events associated with Szalay's visit are open to MA and PhD-level students. Students will have the rare opportunity to pose questions to Szalay directly, consider how his work might inform their own work, and more generally get an inside view of interdisciplinary thinking at a very high level.


MAY 9            3:15 – 5:00      Engelska parken 16-0042       

DISCUSSION: Second Lives: Black-Market Melodramas and the Reinvention of Television

This discussion will serve as an opportunity to pose questions and comments to Szalay about his new book Second Lives: Black-Market Melodramas and the Reinvention of Television. (Please access the introduction to Michael's book by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.) In Second Lives, Szalay defines a new television genre—the black-market melodrama—that has driven the ascent of TV as a cultural force over the last two decades, and that continues to mediate the ongoing effects of deindustrialization on a changing U.S. middle class.

Join Zoom Meeting:
Passcode: 069010


MAY 10          3:15 – 5:00      Engelska parken 16-1058       

LECTURE: Overcoming Severance, from Lumon to Foxconn

This lecture will read Ben Stiller’s "Severance" (2021-), and Apple TV+ programming generally in light of Apple’s unique position in the streaming ecosystem. A service provider as well as a device maker, Apple brands its media productions as exactingly as it does its phones, tablets, computers, and watches. As a result, its content is branded in ways that Netflix and HBO Max’s, for example, is not. This talk establishes the coherence of Apple’s TV branding and asks how it should matter to a materialist critical practice. Specifically, it asks if the very coherence of Apple’s trans-corporate branding makes it possible to glimpse in Apple content the otherwise hidden, outsourced, upstream production processes upon which the company still depends.

Join Zoom Meeting:
Passcode: 540941


MAY 11          3:15 – 5:00      Engelska parken 16-1044       

ROUNDTABLE: The English Department at Uppsala

Roundtable discussion about American literature and culture with Uppsala English department faculty, MA and PhD students. English department students and faculty will be invited to submit questions and comments to Szalay in advance of his visit that are specific to their and Szalay's work. At the roundtable, Szalay will use these submissions as jumping-off points for lively discussion.


Additional information