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Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities



Ecologies of Attention: Beyond the Economic Frame

Elise Springer • Wesleyan University 

November 14th @ 6pm at Daniel Family Commons

Announcing a "crisis of attention," many public voices diagnose our predicament in economic terms: Lacking savvy about the attention economy, we find our attention squandered or stolen; millions face chronic deficits of attention. Yet by diagnosing the problem in economic terms, we bind our interventions to the same frame — or to its flip-side, the appeal to "dignity" rather than price.

This talk suggests an ecological set of concerns instead. For example, in place of a quantifiable resource, it emphasizes the qualitative transformations of meaning that attention enables. Setting aside the individualist frame that locates attention "in the head," it traces lines of attention as they move through bodies and environments, taking shape over transgenerational and evolutionary arcs of time. Departing from humanist assumptions, it highlights biosemiotic continuity among living forms of attention.

With these ecologically critical interventions in mind, how might we engage freshly with today's public anxieties about attention?


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