Susan Elizabeth Ryan

Susan Elizabeth Ryan is Professor of Art History, Theory, New Media, and Design at the Louisiana State University School of Art.

  • Garments of Paradise

    Garments of Paradise

    Wearable Discourse in the Digital Age

    Susan Elizabeth Ryan

    A historical and critical view of wearable technologies that considers them as acts of communication in a social landscape.

    Wearable technology—whether a Walkman in the 1970s, an LED-illuminated gown in the 2000s, or Google Glass today—makes the wearer visible in a technologically literate environment. Twenty years ago, wearable technology reflected cultural preoccupations with cyborgs and augmented reality; today, it reflects our newer needs for mobility and connectedness. In this book, Susan Elizabeth Ryan examines wearable technology as an evolving set of ideas and their contexts, always with an eye on actual wearables—on clothing, dress, and the histories and social relations they represent. She proposes that wearable technologies comprise a pragmatics of enhanced communication in a social landscape. “Garments of paradise” is a reference to wearable technology's promise of physical and mental enhancements.

    Ryan defines “dress acts”—hybrid acts of communication in which the behavior of wearing is bound up with the materiality of garments and devices—and focuses on the use of digital technology as part of such systems of meaning. She connects the ideas of dress and technology historically, in terms of major discourses of art and culture, and in terms of mass media and media culture, citing such thinkers as Giorgio Agamben, Manuel De Landa, and Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. She examines the early history of wearable technology as it emerged in research labs; the impact of ubiquitous and affective approaches to computing; interaction design and the idea of wearable technology as a language of embodied technology; and the influence of open source ideology. Finally, she considers the future, as wearing technologies becomes an increasingly naturalized aspect of our social behavior.

    • Hardcover $40.00
  • Somehow a Past

    Somehow a Past

    The Autobiography of Marsden Hartley

    Susan Elizabeth Ryan and Marsden Hartley

    Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) is best known as an American modernist and pioneering artist of the early twentieth century. But he was also a prolific writer who published dozens of essays and reviews and several volumes of poetry and prose. The autobiographical account of his life in the manuscript collection of Yale's Beinecke Library has often been consulted by scholars and curators writing about Hartley. It is the most revealing document he left about his personal life and relationships—both for its disclosures and omissions—but has never been published before. Transcribed from Hartley's own handwritten manuscripts, this edition is accompanied by photographs (some never before published), notes, and an introduction discussing Hartley's fascination with autobiography in the context of his struggle with notions of self-representation in art. Susan Ryan also describes the circumstances surrounding the composition of Somehow a Past, and explains the distinctions between this original version and two later ones also in the Beinecke Library. Somehow a Past is compelling both as historical document and as personal narrative. Although solitary, self-involved, and saturnine, Hartley nevertheless knew nearly every figure of the international avant-garde in his day and unfolds his life largely through a chain of personal encounters. His traffic with such major literary and artistic figures as Alfred Stieglitz, Vasili Kandinski, Gertrude Stein, Mabel Dodge, Eugene O¹Neill, Robert McAlmon, and Charles Demuth is recorded as are his travels both domestic and foreign. Somehow a Past is gossipy, discursive, and self-distanced. Hartley drafted it several times, truncating the description of his traumatic childhood, and leaving out any overt reference to his homosexuality. Yet there are moments of crystal clear self-characterization and leitmotifs that commemorate his troubled youth.

    • Hardcover $40.00
    • Paperback $5.75