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Seminar: “Unclassifiables: Writing that Bends, Blurs, and Defies Boundaries.”
December 15, 2017 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
When Diaghilev told Cocteau “Etonne-moi!” (“Astonish me!”), Cocteau rose to the challenge with an unclassifiable creation: a “cubist ballet,” with music by Eric Satie, sets and costumes by Picasso, and book by himself.
This seminar examines a series of “unclassifiable” literary performances, which—whatever else can be said about them—are provocative and often astonishing works of art. We’ll dip into works of literature written mostly in the past 75 years that combine genres and break boundaries in ways that put them beyond classification.
We’ll read works that conflate essay and autobiography, that blur memoir and fiction, private journals and public performance, that use travel or landscape as portals into biology, anthropology, surrealism, and absurdity. We’ll examine aphoristic and accidental works.
What is gained—and lost—in blurring or stretching boundaries and breaking with conventions? Can a novel exist without plot, characters, or scenes? Can any work of art that doesn’t in some way break new ground be truly great? What makes a work readable?
Those are some questions this seminar will wrestle with. All materials provided.