Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age

Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age

by Kenneth Goldsmith
     
 

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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.

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.

Editorial Reviews

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.

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

Dr. Walter Nicholson is the Ward H. Patton Emeritus Professor of Economics at Amherst College and a visiting professor at Ave Maria University, Naples, Florida. Throughout his teaching career, Dr. Nicholson has sought to develop in students an appreciation for the value of economic models in the study of important social questions. He also has enjoyed showing students some of the stranger things that economists have sought to model. Dr. Nicholson received his Ph.D. in economics from MIT. Most of his research is in the area of labor economics, especially policy questions related to unemployment. He lives in Naples, Florida and Montague, Massachusetts, where he and his wife enjoy the frequent visits of their eight grandchildren.

Dr. Christopher Snyder is the Joel Z. and Susan Hyatt Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College, where he pursues research and teaching interests in microeconomic theory, industrial organization, and law and economics. He is a research associate in the National Bureau of Economic Research, serves on the board of the Industrial Organization Society, and is an associate editor of the Review of Industrial Organization. Snyder received his Ph.D. from MIT. His recent research has appeared in leading economics journals, including the Review of Economics and Statistics and Quarterly Journal of Economics. He lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, with his wife, who also teaches economics at Dartmouth, and three daughters.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231504546
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
09/13/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
File size:
8 MB

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 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.

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