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Professor Michael Dango’s Book Launch

On Thursday, Feb. 18, the English Department held a celebration for one of their faculty members, Professor Michael Dango in the Wright Museum of Art to help celebrate the launching of his new book, Crisis Style: The Aesthetics of Repair. 

A large number of students, faculty and staff gathered in the lobby of the Wright Museum to hear kind words from Professor Chris Fink and one of Dango’s students, who introduced him to the audience.

Professor Fink opened up the book launch by thanking the students and faculty who helped organize the event. In doing so, two students brought out Dango’s favorite style of cake, tres leche, which Fink then led a version of “Happy Birthday” replacing the common phrase with “Happy first book to you” which the crowd warmly joined in and applauded afterwards. 

Toryn Seeberger’22, English and Critical Studies major had the pleasure of introducing Professor Dango but briefly spoke on what it was like to work with him and be a student in some of his classes. Professor Dango is recognized for his research and teaching of twentieth and twenty-first century American culture, aesthetics, queer and feminist theory and enviornmental humanities. 

Seeberger shared a light hearted moment they experienced in the midst of being a student while also living through a global pandemic. Their story mentioned how Professor Dango went out of his way in classes to make students feel closer with one another virtually. He asked students to share their most listened to songs in which he compiled a playlist for his class to listen to in between breaks. Seeberger also talked about the various lessons and resources he provides for his students and how that can translate to their lives outside of an academic setting.

Professor Dango completed his Ph.D. in English literature at the University of Chicago where he was also a postdoctoral fellow and residential fellow in the Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies. At Beloit he is an Assistant Professor of English and Media Studies. His writing has appeared in a handful of academic journals like “differences,” “New Literary History,” “Signs,” “Modern Fiction Studies,” “Post45,” “Social Text,” “Novel,” “Critical Inquiry and Modern Philology.” His writing has also been recognized in para-academic forums such as “Public Books,” “New Inquiry,” “The Los Angeles Review of Books” and “Artforum.” 

Professor Dango was introduced to the stage and welcomed with applause to speak on his book by Seeberger. He graciously thanked those who organized the event as well as taking the time to acknowledge the “surreal experience” it was to publish a book during a pandemic. 

“This is the kind of first, public, live event that I am able to do. So it’s kind of felt like not real but this book exists and this is all starting to make it feel suddenly very real in a way that this is a little exciting to see. So thank you for helping me make it real and for sharing this space with me tonight,” Professor Dango said. 

From Professor Dango’s website he highlights the discourse of his first book “Crisis Style: The Aesthetics of Repair.” He writes that the book “theorizes how stylistic developments in contemporary U.S. fiction, sculpture, film, and design respond to a sense of pervasive crisis.”

He expresses two main ambitions of his book. “On one hand it’s a survey of contemporary American art and literature and stylistic developments in those fields. On the other hand it wants to think about how stylistic developments have absorbed parts of habits in the world for adapting to a changing world or for moving on in either forms of stress in a kind of ever changing environment.”

Speaking further on the manner Professor Dango said “So on one hand it’s a kind of book of art history, literary history, specially past couple decades although it typically goes back to the 60s.”

The start of the book came from a real question of crisis. Professor Dango spoke of his feelings of an ever-changing environment and a place where we always feel like we are in a mode of crisis, constantly moving from one crisis to another. Crisis in a traditional narrative implies a singular monumental moment in which one makes a decisive action. 

“Crisis isn’t an event but instead it’s chronic, something we’re feeling on time. It’s ordinary as opposed to the extraordinary parts of everyday life and that’s what I was really interested in in the beginning. Crisis now feels less like an event and more like a mood.”

In thinking this way, Professor Dango drew from developments in humanities and social sciences that can also be related to affect theory. Further explanation describes his relevance of affect theory in his book. The main takeaways from affect theory is that the feelings and emotions we have are not private possessions but instead these feelings are produced through larger social and political structures and forces. 

Throughout his speech he uses the example of the current pandemic we are all experiencing and how the related stress, anxiety or depression can also be viewed as products of social political structures and not just individual feelings. His interest also peeks into the way each individual views crises and theorizes two types of crises; crisis of control and recognition. In adaptation to dealing with such crises his book further discusses the actions of detoxing, filtering, binging and ghosting where he additionally argues that they can be used to describe contemporary art and literature. 

The book can be purchased through print or available through the following Ebook retailers: Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and Apple iBooks.

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