English and drama

Experimental Writing

Module code: Q3199
Level 6
30 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Workshop, Seminar
Assessment modes: Dissertation

This module considers why and how writers produce new forms. We explore the historical and current uses of a variety of names for writing that defies generic expectations (such as innovative, avant-garde, experimental, difficult and cross-genre).

You are required to read a wide range of exemplary texts (likely but not necessarily chosen from the modern and contemporary periods) that eschew easy generic categorisation. A particular theme or problem may be selected by the tutor each year (e.g. cross-genre writing, innovative poetics, documentary writing or speculative fiction). Readings might include work by Walter Benjamin, Andrea Brady, Anne Carson, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Renee Gladman, Bernadette Mayer, Fred Moten, Harryette Mullen, Maggie Nelson, Raymond Queneau, Charles Resnikoff, Sophie Robinson, Fran Ross, Muriel Rukeyser and Monique Wittig.

Critical inquiry will focus on the effects of formal techniques within specific literary historical and social contexts. You will also develop your own writing and up to half of class time may be devoted to workshopping student work. As a writer you may be asked to identify the tensions or contradictions that animate your writing and to work up in structured, experimental or procedural fashion a set of formal mechanisms for reframing these tensions.

The module will help you to bring creative writing and critical practice together in order to best navigate your aims and objectives for writing. Final assessment will involve a 6,000-word critical/creative dissertation.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the concepts raised by their special subject (the history of experimentation in writing).
  • Define a topic for research which is appropriate to the module.
  • Organise complex material in an extended piece of written work.
  • Articulate their aims and objectives as writers and develop creative practice in this light.