Hartwick College Bresee Hall 2023

The Babcock Lecture

2023–24 Babcock Lecture

Robert T. Tally Jr.

“Mapping and Monsters: Critical Theory in the Teratocene”

Thursday, April 25

7:00 p.m.
Eaton Lounge, Bresee Hall

Dystopian visions in our time are complemented by, and subsumed within, a broader sense of the monstrous world system, which increasingly seems to involve the presence of actual monsters. Indeed, ours is a veritable teratocene or “age of monsters.” As the processes of globalization become more starkly experienced, monsters are increasingly rendered invisible or unknowable, as we find ourselves subject to an immense array of forces beyond our control. In the 2023–24 Babcock Lecture, starting with an oft-quoted, if misquoted, observation by Antonio Gramsci—i.e., “[t]he old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters,” which has circulated in recent years as almost a truism regarding our own historical moment—Robert Tally will discuss the ways in which this misquote (e.g., the more literal translation: “in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear”) stands as a motto for our era nonetheless. Monsters and monstrosity have developed into critical embodiments of unnamed terrors in postmodernity, symbolizing aspects of globalization, thus making them exemplary figures of late capitalist dread. Drawing upon recent critical theory, Tally examines the “dialectic of fear” in connection with ideologies of the undead, among other monstrosities of our time.

Robert T. Tally Jr.

Robert T. Tally Jr. is professor of English at Texas State University. He is the author of a dozen books, including The Fiction of Dread: Dystopia, Monstrosity, and Apocalypse (Bloomsbury, 2024), Representing Middle-earth: Tolkien, Form, and Ideology (McFarland, 2024), The Critical Situation: Vexed Perspectives in Postmodern Literary Studies (Anthem, 2023), For a Ruthless Critique of All That Exists: Literature in an Age of Capitalist Realism (Zer0, 2022), and Topophrenia: Place, Narrative, and the Spatial Imagination (Indiana University Press, 2019). He has also edited more than a dozen books and special issues, including Spatial Literary Studies (Routledge, 2020), Teaching Space, Place, and Literature (Routledge, 2018), and The Routledge Handbook of Literature and Space (Routledge, 2017).

Past Lectures Include:

  • Paul Benzon, “The Poetics and Politics of the Paralegible”
  • Amitava Kumar, “The Man Without a Country”
  • Brian Greenspan, “The Mobile Sleuth: Stories for Urban Media”

About the Babcock Lecture

The Babcock Lecture is presented by the Babcock Chair in English, the Department of Literature Media and Writing, and the Visiting Writers Series at Hartwick College.

In 1941, Cora A. Babcock, a graduate of Hartwick Seminary, partially endowed the Babcock Chair in English to honor Dr. James A. Pitcher, whose inspired teaching of English and theology at the Seminary had influenced Babcock’s decision to teach and whose career as scholar, poet, and administrator had strengthened the Seminary. Later receiving further support from a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to enhance instruction in the humanities at Hartwick College, the Babcock Chair’s endowment was increased “to reward outstanding achievement by a member of our own faculty.” The Babcock Chair is a three-year appointment that supports scholarly work, creative work, and pedagogical or curricular research of tenured faculty who have established a record of superior teaching and scholarly or creative work. The Babcock Professor also administers one or two major lectures a year, to be called the Babcock Lectures.


For more information, please contact Associate Professor of English and Babcock Professor of English Bradley J. Fest at festb@hartwick.edu or 607- 431-4921.

Additional opportunities to engage with inspirational writers.