All lectures are held in Jonas 110 at 4:00 p.m. on Thursdays and are free and open to the public.
Tim Steckline: “America’s Favorite Carnage: Selling Wilderness Ordeals as Spectacle”
As the French Situationist movement could tell you, it’s refreshing to get lost in this day and age. But the reinscribed media genre of the “wilderness ordeal,” in which a human protagonist is depicted as lost and desperately alone in the wilderness, threatens to domesticate even this most feral narrative form. A Situationist critique of the film 127 Hours, which dramatizes the ordeal of Aron Ralston in a Utah slot canyon, shows us a person engrossed in the digital spectacle even when pinned in a Utah slot canyon. Ralston’s episode is compared not only to other recently dramatized ordeals, such as those of Timothy Treadwell and Chris McCandless, but also for historical context the wilderness ordeals of Hugh Glass and Cabeza de Vaca, or the less well publicized modern ordeals of Rudi Lambrechtse and John Ey III. The Situationist take on such reinscribed narratives emerging in the era of the digital spectacle would advise that once our everyday life experience has become so alienating that it requires a spectacular rebirth in a lonely wilderness ordeal, we are culturally in bad shape. We consumers of spectacles may be compared to George Bailey from Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, or a Deadhead pleading for tickets: we need a miracle.