Writing Material Differences (LITR 1230J, Spring 2012)

Abstract (in English): 

An exploration of the material poetics and certain (transcultural) practices of writing, beginning 'West' and moving 'East,' wherever 'to write' always means something radically different 'here' and 'now' or 'there' and 'then.' We will engage with, amongst others, work by: Steve McCaffery, Joan Retallack, Caroline Bergvall, TNWK (material poetics & performance); John Welch & Ian Sinclair (out walking); John Hall (domestic grammars); Oskar Pastior & Harry Mathews (self-referential machinery); Alan Sondheim (bad code read/writing in Life 2.x); Alec Finlay (shared writing in the open air); Wang Wei (regulated verse/painting); Wang Xizhi (prefaces, parties, & calligraphic afterparties); Xu Bing (hallucinations of world writing); with theorist/critics: Foucault; Fenollosa; Kittler; Derrida; Lessig.

Explore the material poetics of writing, 'West' and 'East.' Even within our own - Eurocentric - culture, writing is embodied and practiced in many different ways. There are familiar, predominant, and authoritative forms of writing and publication, both expository and creative. There are popular, marginal, avant-garde, and newly mediated practices which may be social, political, literary, and so on, and which may fashion language into forms and performances that exceed both convention and critical expectation. How can language, embodied in unfamiliar forms, become significant, affective, or perhaps even powerfully effective? We will try to answer this and related questions through readings and discussions of criticism, theory, and literary work. We will examine the poetics of what I am calling writing's material differences: what language is as substance and system. We will also, importantly, seek a transcultural perspective on embodied creative writing, since I will introduce practices - including both poetics and calligraphy as a writing practice - in the Chinese culture-sphere, the only other 'place' on the planet where writing in a radically different way supports a fully-formed and distinct civilisation.

(Source: Lesson Plan)

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Patricia Tomaszek