Theater of Innovation: Live Performance in the Tech Industry with Li Cornfeld


Manage episode 302690250 series 1067405
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Hagley Center program officer Gregory Hargreaves interviews Dr. Li Cornfeld about her research into the history of theatrical live performance as a means of unveiling and promoting novel technologies. In support of her project, Cornfeld, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan Digital Studies Institute, received a NEH-Hagley postdoctoral fellowship from Center for the History of Business, Technology, & Society. A man in a black turtleneck stands upon a spot-lit stage and holds aloft a small rectangular object to the audible adulation of crowded onlookers. The showman’s spectacle of technology demos may be a familiar one, but its many variations, entanglement with society, and surprisingly deep history make it a rich site for inquiry. Li Cornfeld combines ethnographic field work in technology trade shows with archival research to tell a complex story about how theatrics shapes the meaning ascribed to technologies even before they reach the consumer. For more Hagley History Hangouts, and to learn more about the Center for the History of Business, Technology, & Society, visit us online at

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