Figuring the Word: Essays on Books, Writing and Visual Projects

Overview

Johanna Drucker is among the foremost authorities on the history of alphabets, writing, artists' books, and visual poetry. This book is a compendium of Drucker's thought - yet rather than anthologize from her numerous published books, Figuring the Word collects writings only previously found in academic and literary journals, as well as transcriptions of her lectures and interviews. The book is divided into sections, each with several chapters, which include "Writing as Artifact", "Visual Poetics", "Artists' ...

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Overview

Johanna Drucker is among the foremost authorities on the history of alphabets, writing, artists' books, and visual poetry. This book is a compendium of Drucker's thought - yet rather than anthologize from her numerous published books, Figuring the Word collects writings only previously found in academic and literary journals, as well as transcriptions of her lectures and interviews. The book is divided into sections, each with several chapters, which include "Writing as Artifact", "Visual Poetics", "Artists' Books Past and Future" and "The Future of Writing". None of the work in Figuring the Word has ever been published in book form before, and yet it extends and reveals the already broad range of Drucker's voracious and penetrating intellect.

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Editorial Reviews

David Gray
Figuring the Word collects diverse writings by Johanna Drucker previously published in literary and scholarly journals. Topics include: "The Word Made Flesh," "Writing as Artifact," "Visual Poetics," "Artists' Books Past and Future," "The Future of Writing," & "Personal Writing." The book also includes an anecdotal checklist of Drucker's artists's books and an informative introduction by poet Charles Bernstein.

Figuring the Word is a work of poetics rather than criticism or theory in that these essays are the products of doing as much as thinking, of printing as much as writing, of designing as much as researching, of typography as much as composition, of autobiography as much as theory. The mark of the practitioner-critic is everywhere present in these pieces. Figuring the Word is a wide-ranging collection of Drucker's essays from the early-80's to the present. Written in a variety of styles and presented in a variety of formats, the book reflects many divergent aspects of her work and thinking, while at the same time demonstrating how cohesive her project has been. Drucker begins with a wonderfully digressive discussion of her work as a book artist in which she gives an account of what lead her not only to her book art, but also to her related scholarly investigations. She then provides a series of close readings of the work of a number of contemporary language artists, providing in other essays overviews of the historical precedents for this work. The book includes not only a perceptive essay about the use of language in the landscape but also a prescient essay about the use of language in the new electronic frontier of cyberspace.
—from the introduction by Charles Bernstein, Poet, Editor and David Gray Professor of Poetry and Poetics at SUNY-Buffalo.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781887123235
  • Publisher: Granary Books, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/2/1998
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

"Johanna Druckerhas been making artist's books since 1972, and is currently the Robertson Professor in Media Studies in the English and Literature Department at the University of Virginia. Her critical publications include The Visible World, Theorizing Modernism, The Century of Artists' Book, and Figuring the World; her artistic titles include Nova Reperta, Narratology, Otherspace: Martian Typography, and Dark Decade."

Charles Bernstein, one of the founders of the Language writing movement, is one of the leading figures in contemporary poetry and poetics. He currently teaches at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
I Foreword: Writing & the Book 3
II The Word Made Flesh, "Through Light and the Alphabet," 9
III Writing as Artifact
The Material Word 55
The Art of the Written Image 57
Simulacral Exoticism 76
Hypergraphy: A Note on Maurice Lemaitre 82
Language in the Landscape 90
IV Visual Poetics
The Interior Eye: Performing the Visual Text 103
Experimental/Visual/Concrete 110
Linguistic Authority and the Visual Text 137
The Visual Line 140
Visual/Verbal: Symposium Response 142
Letterpress Language 146
V Artists' Books Past and Future
The Corona Palimpsest: Present Tensions of the Book 167
Critical Metalanguage for the Artists' Book 171
The Myth of the Democratic Multiple 175
Offset: The Work of Mechanical Art in the Age of Electronic (Re)production 184
Iliazd and the Book 194
VI The Future of Writing
Language as Information: Intimations of Immateriality 213
The Future of Writing in Terms of Its Past 221
Electronic Media and the Status of Writing 232
VII Personal Writing
Writing History: Mine 239
Writing as Inscription 245
Other than Linear 248
Auto-Ecriture and the Polymorphous Text 254
Writing with Respect to Gender 258
Narratology: Genre Fiction and New Writing 278
Conclusion: "Figuring the Word" 291
App Checklist of Artists' Books 1972-1998 299
Acknowledgments and Permissions 311
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