Monday, September 13, 2010

Introduction to Conceptual Writing

What is conceptual writing and who is doing it?

A group of practitioners can be loosely drawn as they are on the side bar of this blog. The list will be added to over the coming months as we move through the readings. Some of those added will aguably be described as conceptual writers, others we'll have to make a case for. To figure out what is and isn't we'll have to come up with some definition of Conceptual Writing, which, if you look at the writing about Conceptual Writing, isn't necessarily so easy to do.

Here's something to think about:
constraint isn’t enough, not by a long shot. Aren’t we talking about disruption as a way of ordering disruption? Procedure as a mock-up of process? I guess I’m interested in what happens when avant garde practices are applied to more conventional strands of storytelling…Unreadablity as a feature of reading in extremis? I’m not sure what I’m looking for exists quite yet but I am sensing a kind of formally innovative, intelligent and emotive kind of fiction that is under some pressures, that uses found and sculpted language, that transforms in some new way, how we might look at our (excess) world…that helps us in fact, imagine it.
From the Introduction to Conceptual Fiction folio on Drunken Boat curated by Sina Queyras & Vanessa Place.

Here's something else:
It's clear that long-cherished notions of creativity are under attack, eroded by file-sharing, media culture, widespread sampling, and digital replication. How does writing respond to this new environment? This workshop will rise to that challenge by employing strategies of appropriation, replication, plagiarism, piracy, sampling, plundering, as compositional methods. Along the way, we'll trace the rich history of forgery, frauds, hoaxes, avatars, and impersonations spanning the arts, with a particular emphasis on how they employ language. We'll see how the modernist notions of chance, procedure, repetition, and the aesthetics of boredom dovetail with popular culture to usurp conventional notions of time, place, and identity, all as expressed linguistically.
--Kenneth Goldsmith
Riffing on Goldsmith’s Uncreative Writing workshop we will, over the course of the semester, immerse ourselves in conceptual writing practices. We will explore the relationship between art and language on the page, on walls, inside and outside spaces. We will attend galleries and engage in projects of description, transcription and d├ętournement. We will take our practice to the street and to the archive. We will access the Internet but we will also access the surfaces of the city. We will read conceptual writing, and writing about writing, and we will ourselves, engage in short and long term writing projects that are responding to the readings, as well as proposing our own projects. Weekly art outings are not mandatory, but will enhance the discussion of conceptual work over the course of the semester.

Primary Texts
The Inkblot Record, Dan Farrell, Coach House
Notes on Conceptualisms, Fitterman & Place
Nets, Ugly Duckling Presse, Jen Bervin
Rob The Plagairist, Robert Fitterman
Dies: A Sentence, Vanessa Place, Les Figues
Revolution, Kim Rosenfeld, Les Figues

All additional readings not handed out in class will be available or linked to on this blog: the syllabus will certainly shift. 

Grading & Assignments
Participation & Discussion 40%
Must attend. These discussions cannot be replicated and we will likely do in-class writing as well. You will lose 5% for each undocumented absence. Please keep a writing journal and respond to each reading in detail. This will ensure you  have something to contribute each class. All students are expected to contribute to discussions. It would be good to come with a written reading response. Students are also asked to keep a writing/reading journal in which they respond in an ongoing way to the readings we are engaging with, as well as track their own writing projects. This will help develop  your final statement. 

Assignments 40%
You will have 5 writing assignments over the course of the semester as well as 3 opportunities to lead a discussion. You will hand these in and workshop. Each of these is worth 5%.

Final Portfolio & Statement 20%
You final portfolio will consist of your writing assignments, plus a short written statement outlining your engagement with conceptual writing. 

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