Upcoming Geek Speak explores wilderness ordeals as spectacle

Author: BHSU Communications/Wednesday, February 7, 2018/Categories: Events, College of Liberal Arts, Community, Faculty, 2018

“Under the paving stones is the beach.” This Situationist proverb explains the idea that, even when you are surrounded by civilization, the wild is lurking.

In his Geek Speak, “America’s Favorite Carnage: Selling Wilderness Ordeals as Spectacle,” Dr. Tim Steckline, professor of speech at BHSU, will explore the pervasiveness of spectacle in our society according Situationist theory. This speak will be held Thursday, Feb. 8 at 4 p.m. in Jonas 305. All Geek Speaks are free and open to the public.

“Aristotle originally used the word spectacle to refer to the part of the play that attracts your eyes,” Steckline says. “In a way, spectacle is like eye candy.”

Steckline explains that situationism is a theory that grew out of existentialism in France during the late 1950s. Theorists such as Guy Debord suggested that capital had invaded every aspect of society, saturating culture. This capital, they proposed, expresses itself in spectacle.

“Capital in our culture has increasingly drawn upon visual power,” says Steckline. “Torn jeans right now are spectacle. Something that was once part of working class gear has been taken over and turned into costume for middle and upper class.”

To escape the power of capital-as-spectacle, early Situationists encouraged others to break up capital’s narrative and create their own. This could be done by simply getting lost in the city or the wilderness.

While this worked for a time, Steckline explained, spectacle eventually hijacked even the methods that were used to escape its presence. Through national news stories and blockbuster movies, the media turned wilderness ordeals themselves into alluring spectacles.

“We are going to focus on 127 Hours and a few other films like The Revenant and Into the Wild,” Steckline says. “These films are about those who wanted to get away and escape. Nowadays, though, with the media, we will take these people and blow them up into spectacles.”

Steckline’s lecture-style presentation will show clips of the films, discussing how spectacle manifests itself in our daily lives. Beyond this, he will discuss ways, even today, to break free from the spectacle around us—to tear up the cobblestones and find the wild that lurks.

The Geek Speak lecture series, sponsored by the BHSU Honors program, features academic discussion and topics not normally discussed in the traditional classroom. The goal of the weekly lectures is to expose students to diversity within the disciplines. Some Geek Speaks will be presented at the Jacket Zone store located on Main Street in downtown Spearfish.
Upcoming Geek Speaks:
  • Feb. 15: “Fano-Plane and Di-Graph Poetics: Intersections of Math and Poetry” by Dr. Dan May, professor of mathematics, and Dr. Courtney Huse Wika, associate professor of English
  • Feb. 22: “A little more than kin and less than kind” by Dr. Amy Fuqua, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Graduate Studies and professor of English
  • March 1: “Trash Has Two Parents: The Person Who Threw It and the Person Who Walked by…” by Dr. Jami Stone, professor of mathematics education
  • March 15: “Wonder Woman, Board Breaking and Performance Art” by Naomi Even-Aberle, instructor of mathematics
  • March 22: “The Geometry of Redistricting,” by Daniel Swenson, associate professor of mathematics
  • April 5: “Sustainability, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Making the Connection” by Petrika Peters, sustainability coordinator for BHSU
  • April 12: "Rebel Girl: Celebrating a Century of Exchange Between American Popular Music and Feminism” by Dan May, professor of mathematics, and Dr. Laura Colmenero-Chilberg, professor of sociology
  • April 19: "Avi Jain: Science, the expert problem, and mass hysteria” by Max Marc, professor of business
  • April 26: “From Bach to Braindrill: Exploring the similarities between Metal and Classical music and fandom” by David Berberick, professor of music
  • TBA: University Honors Capstone Defenses
To read short descriptions of each lecture topic, visit www.BHSU.edu/Honors

For more information, contact Dr. Courtney Huse Wika, director of the University Honors Program and assistant professor of English, at 605-642-6918 or email Courtney.HuseWika@BHSU.edu

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