Fall 2022

Pay Attention! 

What does it mean to pay attention? To notice, bear witness, remain vigilant? How do we compose our embodied minds into states of attention? By watching, listening, expecting, awaiting, and/or following? What attracts, arrests, or fixes our attention?  Where do attentiveness, absorption, and focused immersion leave off and boredom, distraction, noise, hyper-saturation and overwhelm begin? Paying attention to attention reveals systems of valuation: what and whom do we choose to notice? How is our attention commoditized and marketed through contemporary screen- and browsing-time? What can be learned by tracking the historical forms through which attention has been theorized and practiced, and the technologies, cultural forms, and modes of production that have shaped it in the past and present? What forms of discipline does the compulsion to attend entail, and how is our capacity to recognize filtered and trained? How do new algorithmic techniques capture and monetize our attention? This theme invites scholarship on attention and attentiveness across the disciplines. Projects might include work on the political economy and commodification of attention; the attentive sensorium and our capacity to engage through various senses; cultural, critical and aesthetic forms of arresting attention; technologies and techniques of focus and honing attention; wanted and unwanted, undesired, or menacing attention; attention as a strategy of surveillance, governance, and policing; and attending as a form of tending to others.



All lectures begin at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted.  Locations vary by date.


Attention by Design: Course Corrections for Wandering Minds

NATASHA SCHÜLL • New York University • via Zoom


State Violence and the Arts of Attention in Contemporary Black Women's Writing

 ERICA EDWARDS • Yale University • Daniel Family Commons


On Not Knowing and Paying Attention: How to Live in a Possible World

TIM INGOLD • University of Aberdeen • via Zoom


Girly Words: Notes on Minds, Bodies, and Language in the Enlightenment

COURTNEY WEISS SMITH • Wesleyan University • Daniel Family Commons


Creating Attention: Poetry, Form, and the Observing Self, 1680-1750

MARTIN BAEUMEL • Wesleyan University • Daniel Family Commons



"A Combination of Beauty and Bombast": The Spectacle of Capitalism at the World's Fairs

ROBERTO SABA • Wesleyan University • Daniel Family Commons


Is Tristram Shandy "Merely Interesting"?

JESS KEISER • Tufts University • Russell House


Ecologies of Attention: Beyond the Economic Frame

ELISE SPRINGER •  Wesleyan University • Daniel Family Commons


Theorizing the Black Charismatic: Aesthetics, Hermeneutics, and the Politics of Affect

GARRY BERTHOLF • Wesleyan University • Daniel Family Commons


Viral Justice & the Art of Bearing Witness

RUHA BENJAMIN • Princeton University • via Zoom