Tarek El-Ariss on The Leaking Subject
In this lecture, Tarek El-Ariss (University of Austin, Texas), will examine the question of leaking as a political practice (think WikiLeaks) as well as a fictional order involving storytelling and anticipation.
This talk examines leaking both as a political practice involving hacking and circulation and as a fictional order involving storytelling and anticipation. From the Arabian Nights to WikiLeaks, leaks operate as illicit texts that reveal, threaten, and engulf. Associated with involuntary bodily functions, leaking excludes leakers from the community by isolating, exiling, or incarcerating them as a way of controlling a contamination, containing a rupture, and interrupting a narrative flow. Specifically, the talk examines how the leaker becomes constituted in the event of the leak, becoming body in danger, in prison, oozing fluids and data. The talk shows how leakers are no longer authors of a text whose meaning they can define or control, but rather become constituted retrospectively through the fiction of the leak as public intellectuals, criminals, traitors, or heroes.
Tarek El-Ariss (PhD, Cornell 2004) is Associate Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at the University of Texas at Austin, and Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies (2015-16). He is author of Trials of Arab Modernity: Literary Affects and the New Political (Fordham UP, 2013) and editor of The Arab Renaissance: A Bilingual Anthology of the Nahda (1800s-1900s) (Modern Language Association, 2017). His current book project examines the way that cyber modes of confrontation, circulation, and exhibitionism shape contemporary writing practices and critiques of power.