Congratulations to Dr. Zachary Pearl!

Friday, February 24, 2023

Congratulations to Dr. Zachary Pearl, who on February 21, 2023 successfully defended his dissertation, "Fictocritical Cyberfeminism: A Paralogical Model for Post-Internet Communication" Dr. Pearl's supervisor was Dr. Marcel O'Gorman, the internal members were Dr. Heather Love and Dr. Brianna Wiens, the internal-external member was Dr. Carla Fehr and the external examiner was Dr. Aristea Fotopoulou of the University of Brighton.


This dissertation positions the understudied and experimental writing practice of fictocriticism as an analog for the convergent and indeterminate nature of “post-Internet” communication as well a cyberfeminist technology for interfering and intervening in metanarratives of technoscience and technocapitalism that structure contemporary media. Significant theoretical valences are established between twentieth century literary works of fictocriticism and the hybrid and ephemeral modes of writing endemic to emergent, twenty-first century forms of networked communication such as social media. Through a critical theoretical understanding of paralogy, or that countercultural logic of deploying language outside legitimate discourses, involving various tactics of multivocity, mimesis and metagraphy, fictocriticism is explored as a self-referencing linguistic machine which exists intentionally to occupy those liminal territories “somewhere in among/between criticism, autobiography and fiction” (Hunter qtd. in Kerr 1996). Additionally, as a writing practice that originated in Canada and yet remains marginal to national and international literary scholarship, this dissertation elevates the origins and ongoing relevance of fictocriticism by mapping its shared aims and concerns onto proximal discourses of poststructuralism, cyberfeminism, network ecology, media art, the avant-garde, glitch feminism, and radical self-authorship in online environments. Theorized in such a matrix, I argue that fictocriticism represents a capacious framework for writing and reading media that embodies the self-reflexive politics of second-order cybernetic theory while disrupting the rhetoric of technoscientific and neoliberal economic forces with speech acts of calculated incoherence. Additionally, through the inclusion of my own fictocritical writing as works of research-creation that interpolate the more traditional chapters and subchapters, I theorize and demonstrate praxis of this distinctively indeterminate form of criticism to empirically and meaningfully juxtapose different modes of knowing and speaking about entangled matters of language, bodies, and technologies. In its conclusion, this dissertation contends that the “creative paranoia” engendered by fictocritical cyberfeminism in both print and digital media environments offers a pathway towards a more paralogical media literacy that can transform the terms and expectations of our future media ecology.