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Graduate Proseminar: Text Art

REQUIRED TEXTS

Johanna Drucker, The Alphabetic Labyrinth: The Letters in History and Imagination
Craig Dworkin, No Medium
Daniel Heller-Roazen, Echolalias: On the Forgetting of Language
Liz Kotz, Words to Be Looked At: Language in 1960s Art

DESCRIPTION

This proseminar focuses on issues with the emergence of text art in relation to image
making, the book form, archives, design, sculpture, performance, sound, video and/or
spoken word practices, as well as alternative distribution networks. We will situate the
history of the alphabet as a divine gift contra the history of spoken language as mortal
and hence forgetful. From here, we will go on to consider contemporary art practices that
engage or deploy text.

Student interests drive the development of this seminar. Students are divided into three
groups, each of which is tasked with selecting four books from the list of supplementary
texts* (see below) and then preparing an annotation and presentation for the other
seminar members.

Seminar conversations will revolve around concepts of representation, inscription,
erasure, written versus unwritten language, the relation between words and the body, and
other terms as revealed through student explorations.

Artists considered include: David Antin, Caroline Bergvall, Christian Bk, John Cage,
Kenneth Goldsmith, Jenny Holzer, Susan Howe, Barbara Kruger, Jackson Mac Low,
Bruce Nauman, Yoko Ono, Ron Silliman, Kurt Schwitters, Andy Warhol, and others.

This seminar requires around 110 pages of reading per week.

*If a group is interested in an unlisted text, give me at least six weeks notice before the
presentation in order for me to approve it.

SUPPLEMENTAL TEXTS

Art and Technology
Maurice Berger, Jenny Holzer: Truth Before Power
Lise Gitelman, Scripts, Grooves, and Writing Machines: Representing Technology in the
Edison Era
Friedrich Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter

Creative Writing
Maurice Blanchot, Writing the Disaster
Anne Carson, Eros: The Bittersweet
Johanna Drucker, Diagrammatic Writing + Vanessa Place and Robert Fitterman, Notes
on Conceptualisms
Thalia Field and Abigail Lang, A Prank of Georges
Marjorie Perloff, Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century
Ron Silliman, The New Sentence
Gertrude Stein, Narration
Susan Stewart, Poetry and the Fate of the Senses

Design
Jennifer Bloomer, Architecture and the Text: The (S)crypts of Joyce and Piranesi
Judith Clark and Adam Phillips, The Concise History of Dress
Grace Lees-Maffei, Writing Design: Words and Objects

Film and Video
Leo Bersani, Arts of Impoverishment: Beckett, Rothko, Resnais
Michael Chion, The Voice in Cinema
Atom Egoyan and Ian Balfour, Subtitles: On the Foreignness of Film

Painting and Drawing
Susan Cross and Denise Markonish, Sol LeWitt: 100 Views
Caspar Henderson, The Book of Barely Imagined Beings
Leslie Jones and Jessica Morgan, John Baldessari: Pure Beauty
W. J. T. Mitchell, Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation
Simon Morley, Writing on the Wall: Word and Image in Modern Art
Chris Ware, Building Stories

Performance
Vito Acconci, Language to Cover a Page: The Early Writings of Vito Acconci
J. L. Austin, How to Do Things With Words
Sarah Bay-Cheng, Mama Dada: Gertrude Steins Avant-Garde Theatre
Andr Lepecki, Exhausting Dance
Peggy Phelan, Unmarked: The Politics of Performance
Diana Taylor, The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the
Americas

Photography
James Agee and Walker Evans, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
Karen Beckman and Lilianne Weissberg, On Writing with Photography
Susan Sontag, On Photography

Printmedia
Jacques Derrida, Paper Machine
Johanna Drucker, The Visible Word: Experimental Typography and Modern Art, 1909-
1923
N. Katherine Hayles, Writing Machines
Kenneth Goldsmith, Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age

Sculpture
Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit, The Forms of Violence: Narrative in Assyrian Art and
Modern Culture
Arthur C Danto, The Transformation of the Commonplace: A Philosophy of Art
Claudia Mesch and Viola Michely, Joseph Beuys: The Reader
Robert Smithson, Robert Smithson: Collected Writings
Lawrence Weiner, Lawrence Weiner

Sound
Kyle Gann, No Such Thing as Silence: John Cages 433
Seth Kim-Cohen, In the Blink of an Ear: Toward a Non-Cochlear Sonic Art
Walter Ong, Orality and Literacy
Allan Weiss, Breathless: Sound Recording, Disembodiment, and the Transformation of
Lyrical Nostalgia

EVALUATION

Annotations 40%

Given the sizable reading load and extremely diverse issues related to text art,
students will be divided into three groups that are tasked with annotating selected
texts from the supplementary reading list. Each group will provide four
annotations throughout the course. An annotation will consist of: a 4-6-page
summary or illustration of the main ideas or arguments, and a 2-3-page selection
of important, provocative, or otherwise relevant quotes. Annotations are due on
the last day of the Annotation Presentation. See Remarks on Annotations.

Annotation Presentations 40%

In addition to the annotation, groups will guide the seminar for two hours through
a semi-formal conversation about the issues and themes raised in their
supplementary text. This presentation is less a defense or elaboration of the text
and more a suggestive and generative response to its theoretical and practical
possibilities in terms of the group members current art practices and interests.
See Remarks on Annotation Presentation.

Participation 20%

Come to the seminar prepared to talk about the material youve read.

STRUCTURE

Week 1
0:00 0:50: Introduction to the Course + Number Draw
0:50 1:20: Student introductions
1:20 1:30: Break
1:30 3:00: Remarks on Annotation, text art versus creative writing

Week 2
0:00 0:10: Introductions
0:10 1:20: Drucker, Chapters I-V
1:20 1:30: Break
1:30 3:00: Drucker/Open Discussion

Week 3
0:00 0:10: Introductions
0:10 1:20: Drucker, Chapters VI-X
1:20 1:30: Break
1:30 2:15: Drucker
2:15 3:00: Remarks on Annotation Presentation

Week 4
0:00 0:10: Introductions
0:10 1:20: AP1
1:20 1:30: Break
1:30 1:55: AP1
2:00 3:00: AP2

Week 5
0:00 0:10: Introductions
0:10 0:55: AP2
1:00 1:20: AP3
1:20 1:30: Break
1:30 3:00: AP3

Week 6
Kotz, Introduction, 1-3

Week 7
Kotz, 4-6, Conclusion

Week 8
0:00 0:10: Introductions
0:10 1:20: AP1
1:20 1:30: Break
1:30 1:55: AP1
2:00 3:00: AP2

Week 9
0:00 0:10: Introductions
0:10 0:55: AP2
1:00 1:20: AP3
1:20 1:30: Break
1:30 3:00: AP3

Week 10
Dworkin, 1-4

Week 11
Dworkin, 5-8

Week 12
0:00 0:10: Introductions
0:10 1:20: AP1
1:20 1:30: Break
1:30 1:55: AP1
2:00 3:00: AP2

Week 13
0:00 0:10: Introductions
0:10 0:55: AP2
1:00 1:20: AP3
1:20 1:30: Break
1:30 3:00: AP3

Week 14
0:00 0:10: Introductions
0:10 1:20: AP1
1:20 1:30: Break
1:30 1:55: AP1
2:00 3:00: AP2

Week 15
0:00 0:10: Introductions
0:10 0:55: AP2
1:00 1:20: AP3
1:20 1:30: Break
1:30 3:00: AP3