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December 24, 1959 |
|Occupation||Cultural critic, freelance journalist, lecturer|
Mark Dery (born December 24, 1959) is an American author, lecturer and cultural critic. He writes about "media, the visual landscape, fringe trends, and unpopular culture", Mark Dery's Shovelware, 2004.</ref> From 2001 to 2009, he taught media criticism and literary journalism in the Department of Journalism at New York University. In January 2000, he was appointed Chancellor's Distinguished Fellow at the University of California, Irvine. In summer 2009, he was awarded a scholar-in-residence position at the American Academy in Rome, Italy.
In 2010, Publisher's Weekly reported that he was writing a biography of the artist Edward Gorey for Little, Brown.
Bio and works
Dery was born in Boston, and earned a B.A. from Occidental College in 1982. He identifies his politics as "unrepentantly leftist" and his religion as Church of the SubGenius. (On his Facebook page, he gives his "Religious Views" as "Godless. And loving it.")
He has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, Lingua Franca, The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Spin, Wired, Salon.com, "Suck.com", and Cabinet, among other publications. He has been a featured guestblogger on the pop-tech website Boing Boing. Much of his work has dealt with cyberculture and the cultural effects of the Digital Age.
Dery’s books include The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink and Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century, which has been translated into eight languages. He edited the anthology Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture and wrote the monograph Culture Jamming: Hacking, Slashing, and Sniping in the Empire of Signs. His essay collection I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-By Essays on American Dread, American Dreams was published in Brazil, in Portuguese, in 2011 and in the United States, by the University of Minnesota Press, in 2012.
An early writer on technoculture, Dery helped inaugurate cyberstudies as a field of serious inquiry with the anthology "Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture" (1994), which he edited. Flame Wars kick-started the academic interest in cyberfeminism and Afrofuturism, a term Dery coined in his essay "Black to the Future" (included in Flame Wars) and a key theoretical concept driving the now-established study of black technoculture. In it, he interviews three African-American thinkers—science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany, writer and musician Greg Tate, and cultural critic Tricia Rose—about different critical dimensions of Afrofuturism in an attempt to define the aesthetic. The essay is in part based on Henry Louis Gates's assertion that "[t]he Afro-American tradition has been figurative from its beginnings. How could it have survived otherwise?"
Dery is also known for his 1993 essay Culture Jamming: Hacking, Slashing, and Sniping in the Empire of the Signs, in which he popularized the term "culture jamming," a form of "tactical media," or guerrilla media activism, with roots in Situationism, '60s street theater, the agit-prop photomontages of John Heartfield, pirate media, punk zines, and the media pranks of Joey Skaggs. Widely republished in print and on the Web, Culture Jamming helped spark the guerrilla media activism movement associated with Adbusters magazine (to whom Dery, as a columnist, introduced the concept). It remains the definitive theorization of this subcultural phenomenon.
His other key theorizations include the notion of the “pathological sublime”, which he defined on his blog Shovelware as "an aesthetic emotion that is equal parts horror and wonder, inspired by works of art (or nature) that hold beauty and repulsion in perfect, quivering tension. The pathological sublime is the sensation Emily Dickinson had in mind when she wrote, "'Tis so appalling---it exhilarates..."
Dery has written extensively about the British sci-fi author J. G. Ballard, whom he reads as a preeminent philosopher of the postmodern. His obituary for Ballard was published by The L.A. Weekly and on the fansite Ballardian.com.
He moonlights as vocalist/lyricist for the performance-poetry duo Bite the Wax Tadpole.
- Culture Jamming: Hacking, Slashing and Sniping in the Empire of Signs. Open Magazine Pamphlet Series, Open Magazine, 1993.
- Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture (ed.). Duke University Press, 1994. ISBN 0-8223-1540-8
- Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century. Grove Press, 1996. ISBN 0-8021-3520-X
- The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink. Grove Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8021-3670-2
- I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-By Essays on American Dread, American Dreams. University of Minnesota Press, 2012. ISBN 978-0-8166-7773-3
- Mark Dery's Shovelware
- Culture Jamming: Hacking, Slashing, and Sniping in the Empire of Signs
- "J.G. Ballard's Pre-Posthumous Memoir"