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Writing through Culture and Art

ENGL 165.301
Thursday 1:30-4:30

 Beginning in the 70s, the artist Christopher Knowles — an artist with autism — has explored various analog media to create compelling poetry, opera, performances, and visual art. Knowles’s initial introduction to the general public was in 1976, when as a 13-year-old boy, his poems were used as the basis for the libretto for the avant-garde minimalist production of “Einstein on the Beach” by Philip Glass and Robert Wilson. Since then, he has created a broad spectrum of compelling works which will be the subject of his mid-career retrospective at the ICA in the Fall of 2015.

Taking our inspiration from Knowles’s powerful and prodigious output, we will be constructing literary works on analog media: letterpress, chapbooks, broadsides, Xeroxing, typings, scribbling, scratchings & scrawlings. Analog media is also encouraged: reel-to-reel tape recordings, cassettes, reel-to-reels, and LPs.

This year-long seminar will give us an extraordinary opportunity to investigate the ways in which disability studies and neurodiversity help us understand visual art, literature, and music. We’ll explore the deep history of outsider art, folk art, traditional forms of music, writings of the insane, as well as those artists working within the mainstream who have been influenced by artists with disabilities.

The class will culminate in a paper-bound publication to be co-published by The Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing and the ICA.

Note: This is a two-semester course. Students who enrolled in 165 in the fall then re-enroll in 165 in the spring.