Biography

I am an Associate Professor of English at the University of South Alabama, where I specialize in postmodern and contemporary fiction with an emphasis on sound culture studies. I earned a B.A. in English from Washington & Lee University in 1997, and spent the following three years teaching English as a foreign language in Wrocław, Poland. I did my graduate work at the University of Iowa, where I earned an M.A. in 2004 and a Ph.D. in 2007.
 
 
Books

Sound and Aural Media in Postmodern Literature: Novel Listening.
Routledge, 2013.

This study examines postmodern literature—including works by Kurt Vonnegut, William Gaddis, Don DeLillo, Philip K. Dick, Ishmael Reed, and Thomas Pynchon—arguing that one of the formal logics of postmodern fiction is heterophonia: a pluralism of sound. The postmodern novel not only bears earwitness to a crucial period in American aural history, but it also offers a critique of the American soundscape by rebroadcasting extant technological discourses. Working chronologically through four audio transmission technologies of the twentieth century (the player piano, radio, television audio, and Muzak installations), this project charts the tendency of ever-proliferating audio streams to become increasingly subsumed as background sound. The postmodern novel attends specifically to this background sound, warning that inattention to the increasingly complex sonic backdrop allows for ever more sophisticated techniques of aural manipulation—from advertising jingles to mood-altering ambient sound. Building upon interdisciplinary work from the emerging field of sound culture studies, this book ultimately contends that a complementary, yet seemingly contradictory double logic characterizes the postmodern novel’s engagement with narratives of aural influence. On the one hand, such narratives echo and amplify postwar fiction’s media anxiety; on the other hand, they allow print fiction to appropriate the techniques of aural media. This dialectical engagement with media aurality—this simultaneous impulse to repudiate and to utilize—is the central mechanism of the heterophonic novel.



"Packed with information and insight into a fascinating and emerging field, Sound and Aural Media in Postmodern Literature is a vital and accessible inquiry into often overlooked aspects of the postmodern novel." - Los Angeles Review of Books
 
 
Articles + Book Chapters

"The Reality of Fiction in a Virtually Postmodern Metropolis: Jonathan Lethem’s Chronic City and Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge." The City after 9/11: Literature, Film, Culture, edited by Keith Wilhite. In Progress.

"White Noise and Television Sound."
Journal of Sonic Studies 3, Fall 2012.

"Mahfouz and the Arabian Nights Tradition."
Approaches to Teaching the Works of Naguib Mahfouz, edited by Waïl S. Hassan and Susan Muaddi Darraj. MLA Approaches to Teaching World Literature, 2012.

"Eat Your Fried Mush: The Curious Case of Wee Willie Shantz."
Big Muddy 11.2, Fall 2011.

"Binocular Disparity and Pynchon's Panoramic Paradigm."
Pynchon’s Against the Day:  A Corrupted Pilgrim’s Guide, edited by Jeffrey Severs and Christopher Leise. University of Delaware Press, 2011.


"Soundtracking the Novel: Willy Vlautin’s Northline as Filmic Audiobook."
Audiobooks, Literature, and Sound Studies, edited by Matthew Rubery. Routledge, 2011.

"Borrowed Time: Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day and the Victorian Fourth Dimension."
Science Fiction Studies 113 (38.1), March 2011.
 
 
Presentations

"
Sounds Exotic: The CBS Legacy Collection and Our Midcentury Imagination." The Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture since 1900, Louisville, KY, February 20, 2014.

"Scoring Books: Musical Adaptation and the Imaginary Urtext."
MLA 2013 Convention, Boston, MA, January 6, 2013.

"Novel Soundtracks and the Future of Hybridized Reading."
MLA 2013 Convention, Boston, MA, January 5, 2013.

"Just Press Mute: DeLillo and the Tele-visible."
The Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture since 1900, Louisville, KY, February 24, 2012.

"'I Can't Sing Anyway': On Wee Willie Shantz and Doing It Yourself."
Post45 @ The Rock Hall, Cleveland, OH, April 29, 2011.

"Musical Notes:  The Book Score as Paratext." NeMLA 2011 Convention, New Brunswick, NJ, April 8, 2011.

"Impossible Music: Vaucanson and the Invention of the Hypervirtuosic." MLA 2009 Convention, Philadelphia, PA, December 30, 2009.

"Listening to Lolita." NeMLA 2009 Convention, Boston, MA, February 27, 2009.

"Contextualizing Mahfouz:  An Approach to Teaching Arabian Nights and Days." MLA 2008 Convention, San Francisco, CA, December 29, 2008.
 
 
Bits + Pieces

"Thomas Pynchon Understands the Power of Conspiracy Theories."
Salon, September 25, 2013. [Reprint of LARB review.]

"Pynchon's Postmodern Legacy, or, Why Irony Is Still Relevant."
Los Angeles Review of Books, September 21, 2013.

Review of Michael W. Clune's American Literature and the Free Market, 1945–2000.
Modern Fiction Studies 57.2, Summer 2011.

"The Business of Art: An Interview with Kevin Gordon."
Sense 1.8, March 2011.

Entry on Mark Z. Danielewski.
Encyclopedia of Contemporary Writers and Their Work, edited by Geoff Hamilton and Brian Jones. Facts on File, 2010.

Entry on A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
Encyclopedia of Contemporary Writers and Their Work, edited by Geoff Hamilton and Brian Jones. Facts on File, 2010.

"Generic Computations." Review of Mark L. Brake and Neil Hook’s Different Engines: How Science Drives Fiction and Fiction Drives ScienceScience Fiction Studies 107 (36.1), March 2009.

"The Opposite of Literature." Review of Ken Gelder’s Popular Fiction:  The Logics and Practices of a Literary Field. Science Fiction Studies 101 (34.1), March 2007.
 
 
Courses

I typically teach a variety of courses in 20th- and 21st-century fiction at the University of South Alabama, but am on sabbatical until August 2015.


Course websites from previous semesters are archived here.

 
 
Contact

I am most easily reached via email:


My departmental mailing address is:



justin.m.stclair AT gmail.com

Justin St.Clair
Department of English
University of South Alabama
5991 USA Drive, North
Room 240
Mobile, AL 36688
 
 
Miscellany

I love to travel, and was honored to be a team member on a monthlong Rotary Group Study Exchange to Portugal (May 2012). Most recently, I spent six weeks at Fuzhou University Zhicheng College in China (May/June 2014), where I delivered undergraduate lectures on American folklore and conducted a series of postgraduate seminars on sound studies and contemporary American literature.

I served as the University of South Alabama's inaugural Faculty Member in Residence from 2011-12 through 2013-14.

I am the faculty adviser to the Independent Music Collective (IMC), a student organization dedicated to enriching Mobile's music scene. In my capacity as adviser, I curate the IMC's concert series.

And, while this has little to do with my academic life, I'm an avid music photographer. Here are a few of my favorite shots from 2012 and 2013, and here's a larger portfolio featuring some of my earlier work.