Shyness, Cushions, and Food: Case Studies in American Creative Communities

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

In this paper I look at some often-overlooked aspects of creative collaboration, drawing on my experiences in a series of group projects in which I participated over a span of almost 30 years. The infrastructural and interpersonal details of creative collaboration— the architectural space and seating arrangements, food and drink, public and private meeting spaces, meeting management, social conventions—I will argue to be important factors in the quantity and quality of the work produced. These elements are often excluded from certain types of scholarly discourse and I will make a parallel argument for the importance of their inclusion in literary history and criticism.

I use examples such as: Invisible Seattle (a literary/performance group and early e-literature pioneers), Persimmons & Myrrh (a structured show-and-tell society that included among its members David Sedaris), Chicago e-Lit Dinners (a breeding ground for e-literature projects and community), Rude Trip (a German/American collaborative literature project) and Imperial Quality Media (producers of netprov e-literature).

Adapted from a talk given at the Electronic Literature Communities Seminar in Bergen, Norway on September 21, 2010, as part of the Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice (ELMCIP) project.

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Eric Dean Rasmussen