Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age

Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age

by Kenneth Goldsmith

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Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age by Kenneth Goldsmith

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231504546
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 09/20/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
File size: 9 MB

About 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.

Table of Contents

1. Growing up in Wellesley Hills
2. The Inevitable Harvard and Beyond
3. The Progressive as Social Worker
4. The Civic League
5. Early Civil Liberties Career
6. The National Civil Liberties Bureau
7. The United States v. Roger Baldwin
8. Prison Life
9. An Unconventional Marriage
10. The American Civil Liberties Union
11. The ACLU Under Suspicion
12. Turning to the Courts
13. International Human Rights
14. A European Sabbatical
15. Free Speech and the Class Struggle
16. From the United Front to the Popular Front
17. The Home Front
18. Controversies on the Path from Fellow Traveling to Anticommunism
19. Civil Liberties During World War II
20. "Quite a Dysfunctional Family''
21. The Cold War, the Shogun, and International Civil Liberties
22. A Very Public Retirement in the Age of Anticommunism
23. A Man of Contradictions
24. Matters of Principle
25. The Public Image
26. Traveling Hopefully
Collections, Oral Histories, and Interviews

Columbia University Press

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.

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