Anna Kornbluh talks about presentism, the anachronistic historical practice of studying the past with contemporary frames of understanding. While some orthodoxies might consider it to be tantamount to historical heresy, presentism can be a powerful tool in building histories of anti-establishment struggles, such as women’s and workers’ rights movements. The conversation also focuses on the work of the V21 Collective, a research collective that Anna organizes, which applies presentist methods to Victorianist scholarship.
Anna Kornbluh is Professor of English and Director of Graduate Studies at University of Illinois, Chicago. Her research and teaching focus on the novel, film, and critical theory, especially marxism, psychoanalysis, structuralism, and formalism. She is the author of The Order of Forms: Realism, Formalism, and Social Space (University of Chicago 2019), Marxist Film Theory and Fight Club (Bloomsbury “Film Theory in Practice” series, 2019), and Realizing Capital: Financial and Psychic Economies in Victorian Form (Fordham UP 2014). Her current research concerns impersonality, objectivity, mediation, and abstraction as residual faculties of the literary in privatized urgent times. She is the founding facilitator of two scholarly cooperatives: V21 Collective and InterCcECT.
Image: © 2022 Saronik Bosu
Music used in promotional material: ‘Past has not Passed’ by James Blackshaw