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Experimental Writing: Poetics of the Infra-Ordinary

ENGL 3111.301
R 1:45-4:45pm

"How should we take account of, question, describe what happens every day and recurs every day: the banal, the quotidian, the obvious, the common, the ordinary, the infra-ordinary, the background noise, the habitual? To question the habitual. But that's just it, we're habituated to it. We don't question it, it doesn't question us." In this class, we’ll put a poetic microscope on those things around us which we normally pay no attention to—objects on our desk, the room we live in, the food we eat, the language around us—and turn it into literature. "How are we to speak of these ‘common things,’ how to track them down rather, how to flush them out, wrest them from the dross in which they remain mired, how to give them a meaning, a tongue, to let them, finally, speak of what is, of what we are."

Describe your street.
Describe another street. Compare.
Make an inventory of you pockets, of your bag. Ask yourself about the provenance, the use, what will become of each of the objects you take out.
Question your tea spoons.
What is there under your wallpaper?
How many movements does it take to dial a phone number?
Why don’t you find cigarettes in grocery stores? Why not? *

Quotes from Georges Perec, “The Infra-ordinary,” 1973.

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