ANDREI GURUIANU & NATALIA ANDRIEVSKIKH THE AFTERLIFE OF DISCARDED OBJECTS: MEMORY AND FORGETTING IN A CULTURE OF WASTE (PARLOR PRESS, DIGITAL RHETORIC SERIES, 2019)
The Afterlife of Discarded Objects: Memory and Forgetting in a Culture of Waste is a book in progress that navigates some of the same terrain as its digital storytelling archive companion website. The book attempts to explain and ultimately redeem our culture’s fascination with discarded material objects as a means to encapsulate and shape the socio-cultural imagination. Inspired by the authors’ own memories in post-communist Russia and Romania of playing with the rubbish left over after the shutdown of Soviet factories in the 90s and the influx of Western goods from abroad, The Afterlife of Discarded Objectstakes as its premise the belief in the central role that material objects play in shaping accounts of personal and collective histories.
As one of its driving principles, the book analyzes the double reconstitution of discarded items, for example from a worthless object to a toy, and then to an artifact of a specific historical time period represented through various forms of recollection – stories, photographs, collectibles, heirlooms, monuments, etc. In both cases, discarded objects are re-imagined and made relevant through projection and cultural conceptualization. Shaped by nostalgia and wishful thinking, discarded items become representations of what is wasted, longed for, and aestheticized, existing on the intersection of individual and collective consciousness. While the manuscript constitutes a version of revisionist historiography through its engagement with alternative anthropological artifacts, its ambition stretches beyond that to critically consider how the seemingly immaterial phenomena such as memory and identity are embedded in and shaped by digital and material networks, including ephemera. The project seeks to create a written, visual, and virtual playground where transnational narratives fuse into a discourse on persistent materiality of ephemera, especially when magnified through narrative and digital embodiment.
“The Afterlife of Discarded Objects: Memory and Forgetting in a Culture of Waste uses contemporary theory, literature, popular culture, and personal narratives to investigate how we assign political, socio-cultural, and aesthetic meaning to objects. The book is unique in applying personal narratives and testimonies of contributors from around the world to provide insights and critiques of Western attitudes toward these objects. The Afterlife of Discarded Objects provides transformative social commentary through scrutiny and stories of discarded/found objects in Eastern Europe and in the West encouraging us to reflect more critically on our relationships with things. The stories and theories interwoven in Guruianu and Andrievskikh’s book turn memory into matter and aspire to teach through their exploration. It’s a lofty goal, and the book succeeds.” — Sohui Lee
ANDREI GURUIANU & Anthony Di Renzo Dead Reckoning: Transatlantic Passages on Europe and America (SUNY Press, 2016)
"The experimental hybrid narrative of Dead Reckoningoffers an original and though-provoking contribution to transatlantic studies, drawing connections between disparate histories and disciplines as well as between writers and readers. Its historical reflections also feel eerily relevant at a time when alt-right nationalism is gaining ground both in Europe and the United States. As such, the collection offers many disturbing though useful insights into unsettling current events. Ultimately, however, the text highlights the hopeful power of the imagination and our ability to (re)create our own lives so that, in the final analysis, they might be worth reliving." — Christine Jennings, Modern Language Studies
“A lovely, seductive, original book.” — Thomas G. Pavel, author of The Lives of the Novel: A History
A poet and essayist attempt to find their bearings in a civilization lost at sea.
Dead reckoning is the nautical term for calculating a ship’s position using the distance and direction traveled rather than instruments or astronomical observation. For those still recovering from the atrocities of the twentieth century, however, the term has an even grimmer meaning: toting up the butcher’s bill of war and genocide.
As its title suggests, Dead Reckoning is an attempt to find our bearings in a civilization lost at sea. Conducted in the shadow of the centennial of the First World War, this dialogue between Romanian American poet Andrei Guruianu and Italian American essayist Anthony Di Renzo asks whether Western culture will successfully navigate the difficult waters of the new millennium or shipwreck itself on the mistakes of the past two centuries. Using historical and contemporary examples, they explore such topics as the limitations of memory, the transience of existence, the futility of history, and the difficulties of making art and meaning in the twenty-first century. “Dead Reckoningpilots readers through the purgatory of immigration, a painful sea voyage that with enough courage and hard work can lead through the narrow channel facing paradise: spiritual and material success. Charting the currents between the Old and New Worlds, Andrei Guruianu and Anthony Di Renzo write with the ferocious genius of Pope and Swift and the compassionate heart of Saint Nicholas, patron of sailors and guardian of ports.” — Emanuel di Pasquale, author of The Ocean’s Will
“In the space of the passage from immigrant to citizen in a new home, things fall apart to an apparent nothingness. Guruianu and Di Renzo ask us to consider a brave creativity as an answer for the space where systems fall apart, so that it can be a place where things grow in a reverence for the need to live, to love, to have community, and to be truly free.” — Afaa M. Weaver, author of City of Eternal Spring