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Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age

Kenneth Goldsmith

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Paper, 272 pages, 27 illus.
ISBN: 978-0-231-14991-4
$23.95 / £15.95

September, 2011
Cloth, 272 pages, 27 illus.
ISBN: 978-0-231-14990-7
$75.00 / £52.00

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.

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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.

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