Writing After Criticism

Martin Harrison
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In this workshop the starting point is an investigation of the contentious claim that the literary criticism which characterised the modernist and late modernist periods of literary study and the teaching of writing – a criticism based in close reading, textual analysis and rhetorical analysis – no longer provides a vital context for the practice of writing. Philosophical theory, cultural studies, media studies, environment studies, popular culture studies, digital aesthetics now provide the major critical and meta-critical languages for new writing. In distinction to these areas, text-based study of writing has been slow to invent new categories of study and often unwilling to adopt new ways of thinking about readability in relationship to contemporary creative practice. The paper retrospects equally on Barthes’ claim (1969) that there is an “irreducible antinomy” between creative and critical practice and on Gadamer’s notion of the work as “transformation into structure.” (1960) At the same time, the paper looks out at Gregory Ulmer’s notion (1994) of the current hypermedia formation of a spatial, electronic writing which is beyond, or “the other side” of, rhetoric. Utilising examples from recent print and online story and poetry, the paper focuses on a number of key concepts in creative practice – metaphor, style, originality, genre, form, medium – and asks how effectively writing can be taught outside the context of traditionally conceived critical approaches. Can we define “creative practice” outside of a critical definition of what is literature? If this can be done what does it tell us about writing now? In particular, what does it tell us about structure and readability?

Keywords: Writing, Creative writing, Text and textuality, Hypermedia and hypertext, Literary criticism, Critical theory, Hermeneutics, Metaphor, Teaching writing
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies, Aesthetics, Design, Teaching and Learning
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Martin Harrison

Senior Lecturer and Program Director, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney

Martin Harrison's publications include The Kangaroo Farm (Paper Bark Press, Sydney, 1997), Summer (Paper Bark Press, Sydney, 2001) and Music (Vagabond Press, 2005). His collection of essays on poetry and contemporary creative practice, Who Wants to Create Australia (Halstead Press 2004) was a Times Literary Supplement selection for its International Books of the Year 2004. Harrison's work has appeared in journals internationally including Poetry (Chicago), Poetry International (California) and The London Review of Books. He publishes and reviews widely in Australia. He is the recipient of a number of Australia Council fellowships, including an Established Writers Fellowship (2002-2004), the B.R.Whiting Library fellowship in Rome and has been a visiting writer at the Yaddo Writers and Artists' Colony, NY. He teaches writing and poetics at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Ref: H06P0320