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Creative Writing: Off The Page

ENGL 010.303
T 1:30-4:30


How can language be written and presented in innovative ways on and off the page? In this introductory undergraduate course we will explore that exciting question. We will talk about the art of writers and visual artists who work with language through architecture, technology, performance, and film. Each week, students will consider these unconventional practices, and put them in the service of their own creative writing.

Students will be encouraged to experiment and explore strategies in their writing which we will actively discuss and develop in the first-half of each class. The class will meet on site at Slought Foundation, a cultural organization in Philadelphia, and will be supplemented by occasional off-site visits with writers and artists such as the NY-based poet Rodrigo Toscano and Philadelphia-based artist Osvaldo Romberg.

Course requirements include class attendance and participation; the completion of creative writing assignments that complement assigned readings; and a final project or manuscript, with dates set throughout the semester to guide the final submission.

Some of the visual artists and writers that we will explore in this course include Arakawa+Gins and their recent architectural projects and manifestos; Lawrence Weiner's conceptual art and writing; Sophie Calle's documentary practices and performances; John Boskovich’s films;  Osvaldo Romberg's resin-encased books, as well as the poetry of Rodrigo Toscano, Marjorie Welish, Susan Howe, and Leslie Scalapino.

Students are encouraged to attend a series of public programs at Slought Foundation organized in conjunction with this course, including:

  • The Philadelphia premiers of films by artist John Boskovich, including Without You I'm Nothing and North;
  • me altar's egoes, an exhibition by pioneering conceptual artist William Anastasi exploring literary references in the work of artists Alfred Jarry, James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, and John Cage;
  • The Plato Songs, featuring the work of poet and sound artist Chris Mann and his ongoing work with phoneme-recognition software;
  • An exhibition celebrating the work of poet Charles Olson, organized in conjunction with the release of archival recordings of his lectures at Goddard College in 1962;
  • Beckett and the Unfilmable, a conversation between theorists Branka Arsic and Jean-Michel Rabaté about the experimental film work of Samuel Beckett;
  • An archival exhibition and performance by artist Lenore Malen exploring the writings and psychotherapeutic practices of the celebrated animal magnetist Anton Mesmer;
  • Neurotic Cities, a presentation by Jeremy Braddock, presented with Kimberly Camp of the Barnes Foundation, exploring Modernist art collector Alfred Barnes and his troubled relationship with Philadelphia.