Engl 415/671 Literary Production: Curating & Archiving the Literary Event

Engl 415/671 Literary Production: Curating & Archiving the Literary Event
Office Hours: Tuesday 6-8:15
LB 674-2 sina.queyras@concordia.ca


Decades after Barthes pronounced the author dead, s/he appears to still be in the throws of dying, as does the material manifestations and distribution systems of the book. More, and faster than ever, traditional means of literary production are changing and/or disappearing, placing more pressure than ever on technologies and platforms such as the social media to be the place where events are discussed and promoted, to be of the moment, to capture attention, to relay the source of the text, and further, to create an after-burn online.

As thousands of books and readings become available on the Internet we are increasingly seeing recuperative acts as part of a writer’s practice. There’s a sense of the ephemeral nature of writing—we can so easily compose and delete—while at the same time being hyperaware of our—often very banal—archives. How indeed shall we arrange and approach the archive? What record is essential? How and what shall we chose to keep from the masses of data, sound files, photos, video captures and other ephemera?

It is often at the point of collapse that new ways of thinking about and relating to arts and letters can take root. With that in mind, this course will offer students the opportunity to have hands-on experience developing and implementing literary events. How and what the event is will change according to the make-up of the class and the discussions that evolve. What is the literary event and what is the purpose of it? What happens to our work when it is read out loud? What is the experience of the audience? Who is speaking? Where is the authority? What is the relationship of the reader to the audience? The curator to the reader? To the audience? What is the relationship of the audience to the space, and so on.

This course is complicated to manage because it is both thinking through and literally working to manifest the actual. Students will be discussing, probing, acquiring skills even as they question what and how these ideas will be put to best use. The primary focus of this class is to be present, part of the discussion, and work toward achieving the common goals of our event while continuing your personal artistic trajectory.

So, on the one hand imagining and manifesting the festival/events. Then, whatever the event—or events—students must develop a mandate, solicit work, review, assess, choose, respond to authors, introduce selected work verbally, online and in print—as well as document each stage and the final event. Students will organize event(s), including booking a room, procuring and checking equipment, overseeing events, as well as developing promotional strategies, corresponding with writers, proofreading and editing for print.

Students must take part in some aspect of digital/print publishing and/or editing There are a number of possible ways to achieve this: we can take up where the previous class left off (OFF THE PAGE) or begin a blog for our event, we can migrate sound and text files from other sites (conceptualwriting101 or synapse, for example), craft multi-media presentations, or curate myriad projects in and out of the Academic setting.
See the OFF THE PAGE blog from 2012

NB* This is not a workshop.
This is not a conventionally structured class.
This class will require you to attend literary events outside of the class.
This class will evolve out of immediate class dynamics and discussions, as well as individually tailored projects, and it will be both fluid and demanding.

Books Required
Buffam, Suzanne / pillow book
Kaplan, Josef / all nightmare: introductions, 2011-2012
Tannahill, Jordan / theatre of the unimpressed
Shockley, Evie / new black

Christakos, Margaret / her paraphernalia
Queyras, Sina / unleashed


Online Resources:

PennSound. Ed. Charles Bernstein. 2003. 1 October 2007 http://www.writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/

Woodberry Poetry Room http://hcl.harvard.edu/poetryroom/listeningbooth/index.cfm

Recommended Texts:
*Higgs, Matthew, “Between Audience & Stage” Banff Press 2002
*Martin, Lee-ann “An/Other One” Banff Press 2002
Algarin & Holman, eds, Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Holt, 1994
Bijsterveld & Dijck, Sound Souvenires: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices, Amsterdam University Press, 2009 http://sterneworks.org/PreservationParadoxinDigitalAudio.pdf
Burnham, Clint, The Only Poetry That Matters: Reading the Kootenay School of Writing, Arsenal 2011
Derrida, Jacques. Archive Fever. Trans. Eric Prenowitz. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1996.
Genres, Geneologies, Genres & Genius: The Secrets of the Archive, Columbia UP 2003
Eichhorn, Milne, eds. Prismatic Publics: Innovative Canadian Women’s Poetry & Poetics, Coach House 2009
Foucault, Michel. The Archaeology of Knowledge, Pantheon, 1972.
Howe, Susan, My Emily Dickinson, New Directions, 1985
Jordan, June, Poetry for the People, Routledge, 1995
Kane, Daniel, All Poets Welcome: The Lower East Side Poetry Scene in the 1960s , University of California Press, 2003 (with cds)
McCaffery, Steve. “Writing as a General Economy.” North of Intention: Critical Writings 1973-1986. New York: Roof, 2000. 201–21.
Middleton, Peter. “The Contemporary Poetry Reading.” Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word. Ed. Charles Bernstein. New York: Oxford UP, 1998. 262–99.
Morra & Schagerl, ed. Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace, WLU 2011
Nelson, Maggie, The Art of Cruelty, Norton 2012
*Obrist, Hans Ulrich, A Brief History of Curating, JRP|Ringier 2008
*Paul O’Neill, The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s) MIT 2012
Rothenberg, Jerome, A Secret Location On The Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing 1960-1980 Granary Press, 1998
Spinelli, Martin. “Analog Echoes: A Poetics of Digital Audio Editing.” Object 10: Cyberpoetics (Winter 2002). 16 May 2007 <http://www.ubu.com/papers/object.html&gt;.
Wigley, Mark, “Unleashing the Archive,” Future Anterior, Vol 2, No 2, Winter 2005 pp 10-15American Poets in the 21st Century, Rankine & Sewell, ed., Wesleyan 2007

Kris Kraus on influences, curation

On Curating and Digital Humanities

Obrist: Manifestos for the Future

Situationist Manifesto


June Jordan: Difficult Miracle of Black Poetry in America

The site Kathryn Macleod was taking to us about last week:

Here’s a link to AMODERN’s special issue on the Poetry Series


Montreal Archives site


To add to our reading series sites:





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