Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age

Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age

by Kenneth Goldsmith
     
 

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Can the techniques we traditionally think to be outside the scope of literature, such as word processing, databasing, appropriation, identity ciphering, collaboration, and intensive programming, inspire a reinvention of writing? In Uncreative Writing, Kenneth Goldsmith believes writers now face a situation similar to that of painters in the nineteenth

Overview

Can the techniques we traditionally think to be outside the scope of literature, such as word processing, databasing, appropriation, identity ciphering, collaboration, and intensive programming, inspire a reinvention of writing? In Uncreative Writing, Kenneth Goldsmith believes writers now face a situation similar to that of painters in the nineteenth century. As photography forced artists to alter their approach to their medium, the Internet presents new challenges and opportunities for writers to reconceive ideas about creativity, authorship, and their relationship to language. Confronted with an unprecedented amount of available text and language, writers need to move beyond the creation of new texts to manage, parse, appropriate, and reconstruct those that already exist.

Goldsmith talks of writers who are already taking up this challenge. He discusses a wide range of works and techniques, including the use of Google searches to create poetry, the appropriation of courtroom testimony, and the possibility of robo-poetics. Goldsmith also shows that while the advent of the Web presents new opportunities for writers, many of the seemingly new techniques it represents date back to the early part of the 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 is as important as what the text says or does. Yet more than just reconfiguring texts, uncreative writing, as Goldsmith shows, can also be suffused with emotion, offering new ways of thinking about identity, the ways in which meaning is forged, and the ethos of our time.

Editorial Reviews

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

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.

Library Bookwatch
An invigoratingly different style of writing guide, that reveals how jump-starts to one's imagination can be achieved through what seems (at first glance) to be the unlikeliest of means.

Choice - R. J. Goldstein

A rich, textured portrait highlighting Baldwin's numerous contradictions.... Highly recommended at all levels.

Journal of American HIstory - Michael R. Belknap

A tale worth telling. Cottrell tells it very well.

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

Phi Beta Kappa
"…a fascinating collection of essays…"

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231149907
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
09/20/2011
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.71(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Stanley Kutler

Robert Cottrell's well-documented account of Roger Baldwin is a thoughtful portrait of a fascinating, commanding, courageous, yet terribly complicated figure. Cottrell's "warts-and-all" portrayal leaves no doubt, however: Baldwin is the central figure in the history of twentieth-century civil liberties. What would we have done without him?

Ira Glasser

Roger Baldwin was, in a way, one of America's founders. The original founders invented the Bill of Rights in the eighteenth century; 130 years later, Baldwin invented a way to enforce it. This is his story and it is told in rich and fascinating detail. A must read for those interested in how rights are acquired and kept.

Stephen J. Whitfield

The ACLU is the lengthened shadow of Roger Baldwin, who believed in defending the rights of "S. O. B.'s"--he announced-- so that the freedom of everybody else would be more secure. How Baldwin did so is the subject of this absorbing biography. Deftly told, splendidly researched, and pervaded with critical sympathy, Robert C. Cottrell's portrait not only advances our appreciation of the oddities of human character, but deepens our understanding of the dramatic enlargement of the Bill of Rights in the twentieth century.

David M. Rabban

Cottrell has written a comprehensive and very readable biography of Roger Baldwin, who founded the ACLU in 1920 and remained active in its affairs until his death in 1981. Cottrell portrays Baldwin's complexities and contradictions--the most important civil libertarian in American history was an authoritarian at home and at work, a patrician elitist as well as a political radical, and an unconventional moralist. Baldwin's long and eventful life provides fascinating insights into the history of civil liberties and of the political left in twentieth-century America.

Meet the Author

Kenneth Goldsmith is the author of ten books of poetry, founding editor of the online archive UbuWeb (ubu.com), is the co-editor 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 on his work, Sucking on Words premiered at the British Library. He teaches writing at The University of Pennsylvania, where he is a senior editor of PennSound, an online poetry archive. He held the the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow Professorship in American Studies at Princeton University from 2009 to 2010 and received the Qwartz Electronic Music Award in Paris.

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