On Friday, April 14th, the Certificate Program in Poetics & Theory at NYU, Science Technology Arts + Creativity at Gallatin and the NYU Department of Media, Culture, and Communication will host Computer Love, a talk by Professor Sarah Wasserman!
In the 1980s, people became infatuated with glowing consoles and purring hard drives. The computer itself was an exciting new love object: a shiny new toy, a portal to other dimensions, a potentially autonomous creature—more pet than appliance. In addition to loving their computers, people dreamed about the ways computers would mediate and change love itself. This talk chronicles these dreams and feelings, investigating the culture that sprung up around this new material artifact. How can we recover a way of thinking about intimacy during the time of the PC’s mainstreaming that is historically accurate? Computers didn’t always feel as dehumanizing as they do right now; there was a time when in fact computers felt deeply humanizing. Revisiting this time offers a pre-history of our present moment and an alternative to our contemporary frustration with computers. “Computer Love” is an attempt to explain the popular love stories that helped people in the 80s make sense of a new technology, and to remind us that in the realm of technology, love can help us create better tools.
This in-person event is open to the public - advanced registration and proof of compliance with NYU's vaccination policy is required for non-NYU visitors. Instructions for accessing campus will be sent to you upon registration: RSVP Here.
Sarah Wasserman is associate professor of English at the University of Delaware, where she also directs the Center for Material Culture Studies. She is the author of The Death of Things: Ephemera and the American Novel (University of Minnesota Press, 2020) and co-editor of Modelwork: The Material Culture of Making and Knowing (University of Minnesota Press, 2021) as well as Cultures of Obsolescence (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Her essays appear in PMLA, American Literary History, Post45, ASAP, Contemporary Literature, Novel, the Journal of American Studies, and various edited volumes. Her public writing has been published in LARB, Public Books, and Flaunt Magazine.