Uncreative Writing

Overview

Can techniques traditionally thought to be outside the scope of literature, including word processing, databasing, identity ciphering, and intensive programming, inspire the reinvention of writing? The Internet and the digital environment present writers with new challenges and opportunities to reconceive creativity, authorship, and their relationship to language. Confronted with an unprecedented amount of texts and language, writers have the opportunity to move beyond the creation of new texts and manage, parse,...

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Overview

Can techniques traditionally thought to be outside the scope of literature, including word processing, databasing, identity ciphering, and intensive programming, inspire the reinvention of writing? The Internet and the digital environment present writers with new challenges and opportunities to reconceive creativity, authorship, and their relationship to language. Confronted with an unprecedented amount of texts and language, writers have the opportunity to move beyond the creation of new texts and manage, parse, appropriate, and reconstruct those that already exist.

In addition to explaining his concept of uncreative writing, which is also the name of his popular course at the University of Pennsylvania, Goldsmith reads the work of writers who have taken up this challenge. Examining a wide range of texts and techniques, including the use of Google searches to create poetry, the appropriation of courtroom testimony, and the possibility of robo-poetics, Goldsmith joins this recent work to practices that date back to the early twentieth century. Writers and artists such as Walter Benjamin, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and Andy Warhol embodied an ethos in which the construction or conception of a text was just as important as the resultant text itself. By extending this tradition into the digital realm, uncreative writing offers new ways of thinking about identity and the making of meaning.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Phi Beta Kappa

"…a fascinating collection of essays…"

Times Higher Education
Goldsmith achieves a very difficult feat with this book: he writes lucidly about complex and avant-garde ideas. As a result, he opens up a vital debate for anyone who cares about literature, between notions of traditional creative writing and the set of practices he labels "uncreative writing".

— Douglas Cowie

Midwest Book Review

Selected writers and their practices are reviewed in a series of accessible essays perfect for college-level writers.

Craig Dworkin
Brilliant and elegant insight into the exact relation of contemporary literary practices and broader cultural changes, explaining how the technologies of distributed digital media exemplified by the World Wide Web have made possible the flourishing of a particular type of literature.
Adalaide Morris

What Goldsmith argues has significant implications for the world of poetry, poetics, and pedagogy. His book contains brilliant moments of exegesis and archival documentation, and its keen attention to, knowledge about, and currency in artistic practice makes it as much a user's manual as a scholar's tome.

Sianne Ngai

In these witty, intelligent essays, Goldsmith brings his encyclopedic knowledge of radical artistic practice to bear on how the rise of the internet has irrevocably changed, or should irrevocably change, our existing conceptions of poetry. Goldsmith's practice as artist and critic is deeply interesting. His book is sure to generate lively debate among poets, artists, literary historians, and media theorists.

Marcus Boon

Multimedia artist and executive manager of words, Goldsmith writes a provocative manifesto for writing in the digital era, with a treasure trove of ideas, techniques, and examples that allow us to make it new -- again!

Times Higher Education - Douglas Cowie

Goldsmith achieves a very difficult feat with this book: he writes lucidly about complex and avant-garde ideas. As a result, he opens up a vital debate for anyone who cares about literature, between notions of traditional creative writing and the set of practices he labels "uncreative writing".

Professor Craig Dworkin

Brilliant and elegant insight into the exact relation of contemporary literary practices and broader cultural changes, explaining how the technologies of distributed digital media exemplified by the World Wide Web have made possible the flourishing of a particular type of literature.

James Franco

Good.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231149914
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 9/13/2011
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 780,235
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Kenneth Goldsmith is the author of ten books of poetry and founding editor of the online archive UbuWeb (ubu.com). He is the coeditor of Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing and the editor of I'll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews, which was the basis for an opera, "Trans-Warhol," that premiered in Geneva in March of 2007. An hour-long documentary of his work, Sucking on Words, premiered at the British Library. He teaches writing at The University of Pennsylvania and is a senior editor of PennSound, an online poetry archive.

Columbia University Press

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