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Fictocriticism at the University of Tasmania

Fictocriticism 2008: An English Honours Unit

Convenor: Dr Philip Mead

Description

Postmodern critical and creative work is moving rapidly away from the traditional academic genres of essay, chapter and journal article, on the one hand, and, on the other, the traditional creative genres of fiction and poetry. A hybrid writing, part critical, part theoretical, part creative, is proving influential in the reformulation of literary and cultural studies. Cross- and trans-disciplinary work has brought into existence new forms of academic writing. This unit studies some current, influential work of cultural analysis and commentary by writers working outside and against previously normative disciplinary genres, in what might be termed intellectual avant-gardes. The unit is loosely framed by a psychoanalytic theoretical paradigm and focuses on the pragmatics of writing practice as well as crucial theoretical questions of subjectivity, objectivity, value and cultural politics. There is the opportunity for students to do fictocritical work for their assessment.

Aims and objectives

The aim of this unit is to introduce students to recent and contemporary developments within the discipline ‘English’, under the heading Fictocriticism. It focuses on recent, innovative academic writing practices in the field of literary and cultural studies, and in the humanities more broadly. The unit aims to increase students’ awareness of the field of English and literary studies and of the academic writing practices it currently encompasses. Objectives of the unit are to provide a re-introduction to Freudian and post-Freudian psychoanalytic theory, to increase students’ self-consciousness about their own writing practices, to provide opportunities for innovation and experiment in their own advanced, Honours work.

Learning outcomes

Students taking this unit will have an increased knowledge of cross- and trans-disciplinary advanced work in the field of literary and cultural studies, will have thought about the genres of academic writing, be aware of aspects of the production of academic work and, in some cases, have experimented with innovation in their own work for assessment in the unit. Students will also have been reintroduced to some aspects of psychoanalytic theory as it pertains to the fictocritical field.

Required texts

  • HEA435 Fictocriticism Unit Reader (contents marked*)
  • Ross Gibson, Seven Versions of an Australian Badland
  • Katherine Hayles, Writing Machines
  • Alice Kaplan, French Lessons: a memoir
  • Heather Kerr and Amanda Nettelbeck, The Space Between
  • Stephen Muecke, No Road (Bitumen all the Way)

Assessment

1 x 5,000-word essay due Monday 26 May 4.30pm.

The essay will assess all of the learning outcomes for this unit.

Lecture / seminar schedule

introductory: genres/theory/disciplines/writing practice/knowledge
  • Borges, ‘Pierre Menard, author of the Quixote’*
  • Greenblatt, ‘Introduction’ and ‘Epilogue’ (from Renaissance Self-Fashioning)*
  • Magee, ‘Kierkegaard II: The Sequel’*
  • Ruthven, ‘The Future of Disciplines: A Report on Ignorance’*
  • Didion, ‘Sentimental Journeys’*
  • Castro, ‘Auto/biography’*
Psychoanalysis/the fragmentary self/incompleteness
  • Freud, Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (‘Dora’)*
  • Berheimer and Kahane, In Dora’s Case: Freud, Hysteria, Feminism
  • Wright, ‘What is a clinical “case”?’*
autocritography/psychoanalysis/memory
  • Kaplan, French Lessons: a Memoir
  • Shumway, ‘The Star System in Literary Studies’*
  • Sutherland, ‘The Peons and the Program’*
  • Veeser, ‘The Case for Confessional Criticism’*
Gender/practising fictocriticism
  • Kerr and Nettelbeck, The Space Between: Australian Women Writing Fictocriticism
  • Brook, ‘“Does Anybody Know What Happened to ‘Fictocriticism’?”’*
  • Dawson, ‘A Place for the Space Between: Fictocriticism and the University’*
  • Gibbs, ‘Bodies of Words: Feminism and Fictocriticism’*
critical institutions/literature/the ‘fully sick’ self
  • Ellman, The Hunger Artists: Starving, Writing & Imprisonment
  • Berube, ‘Life as We Know It’*
  • Sacks, [from] The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat*
  • Sedgewick, ‘White Glasses’*
  • Michaels, Unbecoming: an AIDS Diary
writing practice/place/history/creative non-fiction
  • Gibson, Seven Versions of an Australian Badland
  • Schlunke, ‘Time, Nature and the Queered Kangaroo’
  • Curthoys and Docker, Is History Fiction?•

essay proposals due

writing practice/the nomadic text/history
  • Muecke, No Road (Bitumen All the Way)
  • Curthoys and Docker, Is History Fiction?
  • Falconer, ‘Columbus’ Blindness’*
  • Muecke, ‘The Fall: Fictocritical Writing’*
autocriticalcyberfictions
  • Hayles, Writing Machines
  • Haraway, ‘A Manifesto for Cyborgs’*
  • Sofoulis, ‘Cyberquake: Haraway’s Manifesto’*
  • Robyn Ferrell, ‘The Danger of Technology’*

Unit summary and discussion of essay proposals

Bibliography and related reading

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Attridge, Derek, ed. Jacques Derrida: Acts of Literature. New York, London: Routledge, 1992.
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Benjamin, Walter. Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism. Trans. Harry Zohn. London: Verso, 1983.
Berube, Michael. ‘Truth is estranger of fiction.’ Australian Higher Education Supplement. (Wednesday May 24, 2000): 44-5.
Berheimer, Charles and Claire Kahane, eds In Dora’s Case: Freud—Hysteria—Feminism. New York: Columbia UP, 1990 [London: Virago, 1985].
Bernstein, Charles. ‘Artifice of Absorption.’ A Poetics. Cambridge, London: Harvard UP, 1992. 9-89.
Borges, Jorge Luis. ‘Pierre Menard, author of the Quixote.’ Labyrinths. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970:
Brewster, Anne. ‘Fictocriticism: Pedagogy and Practice.’ Caroline Guerin, Philip Butters and Amanda Nettlebeck, eds Crossing Lines: Formations of Australian Culture. Adelaide: Proceedings of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature Conference, 1995. 89-92.
Brook, Scott. ‘“Does Anybody Know What Happened to ‘Fictocriticism’?”: Toward a Fractal Genealogy of Australian Fictocriticism.’ Cultural Studies Review 8.2 (November 2002): 104-17.
Carter, Paul. ‘Crossing the Line: Space as Colonialism.’ Caroline Guerin, Philip Butters and Amanda Nettlebeck, eds Crossing Lines: Formations of Australian Culture. Adelaide: Proceedings of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature Conference, 1995. 1-12.
_____. Material Thinking: Collaborative Realisation and the Art of Self Becoming. Melbourne: Melbourne UP, 2005.
Castro, Brian. Looking for Estrellita. St Lucia: UQP, 1999.
Cixous, Hélène. Rootprints: Memory and Life Writing. London: Routledge, 1997.
Coupland, Douglas. Generation X: Tales from an Accelerated Culture. New York: St Martin’s, 1991.
Curthoys, Ann and John Docker. Is History Fiction? Sydney: UNSW P, 2006.
Dawson, Paul. ‘A Place for the Space Between: Fictocriticism and the University.’ Westerly 47 (November 2002): 139-51.
de Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life. Trans. Steven Rendall. Berkeley: U of California P, 1988.
Didion, Joan. Sentimental Journeys. London: Flamingo, 1992.
du Plessis, Rachel Blau. ‘ -Words: An Essay on the Essay.’ American Literature 68.1 (March 1996): 15-45.
Eagleton, Terry. Marxism and Literary Criticism. London: Methuen, 1977.
_____. Literary Theory: an Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996.
Ellman, Maud. The Hunger Artists: Starving, Writing & Imprisonment. London: Virago, 1993.
Falconer, Delia. ‘Columbus’ Blindness.’ Island 59 (Winter 1994): 4-7.
Ferrell, Robyn. The Real Desire. Briar Hill, VIC: Indra, 2004.
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Freud, Sigmund. Case Histories I: ‘Dora’ and ‘Little Hans.’ The Penguin Freud Library Volume 8. Ed, Angela Richards. London: Penguin, 1990.
Frow, John. ‘Beyond the Disciplines: Cultural Studies.’ K.K. Ruthven, ed. Beyond the Disciplines: The New Humanities. Occasional Paper No. 13. Papers from the Australian Academy of the Humanities Symposium 1991. Canberra: Australian Academy of the Humanities, 1992. 22-28.
Gibbs, Anna. ‘Bodies of Words: Feminism and Fictocriticism — explanation and demonstration.’ Text 1.2 (October 1997):
Gibson, Ross. Seven Versions of an Australian Badland. St Lucia: U of Queensland P, 2002.
Green, Kathleen and Laura Roskos, ‘Packaging the Personal: An Interview with Nancy K. Miller.’ Discourse: Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture 15.2 (Winter 1992-93): 51-63.
Greenblatt, Stephen. Renaissance Self-Fashioning: from More to Shakespeare. Chicago: Chicago UP, 1980.
_____. Learning to Curse: Essays in Modern Culture. New York: Routledge, 1990.
Griffiths, Morwenna. Feminism and the Self: the Web of Identity. London: Routledge, 1995.
Haraway, Donna. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: the Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991.
Hayles, N. Katherine. Writing Machines. Cambridge and London: MIT, 2002.
Home, Stewart, ed. What is Situationism? A Reader. Edinburgh/San Francisco: AK, 1996.
Jameson, Fredric. ‘Après the Avant Garde.’ London Review of Books 18.24 (12 December 1996): 5-7.
Juno, Andrea & V. Vale, eds Research: Angry Women. San Francisco: RE/SEARCH, 1991.
Kaplan, Alice and Kristin Ross, eds Yale French Studies 73 (1987). ‘Everyday Life’ issue.
_____. French Lessons: A Memoir. Chicago and London: U of Chicago P, 1993.
_____. The Collaborator: the Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach. Chicago: Chicago UP, 2000.
Kerr, Heather. ‘Fictocriticism, the “Doubtful Category” and “The Space Between”.’ Caroline Guerin, Philip Butters and Amanda Nettlebeck, eds Crossing Lines: Formations of Australian Culture. Adelaide: Proceedings of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature Conference, 1995. 93-96.
_____ and Amanda Nettelbeck, eds The Space Between: Australian Women Writing Fictocriticism. Nedlands: U of Western Australia P, 1998.
King, Noel. ‘My Life Without Steve: Postmodernism, Ficto-criticism and the Paraliterary.’ Southern Review 27.3 (September 1994): 261-73.
_____, ‘Eh?’ [about Kathy Acker] HQ (Nov/Dec 1995): 47-50.
Kinsella, John. Auto. Fremantle: Fremantle Arts Centre, 2002.
Knabb, Ken. Situationist International Anthology. N.p: Small Press Distribution, 1982
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Lefebvre, Henri. ‘The Everyday and Everydayness.’ Alice Kaplan and Kristin Ross, eds Yale French Studies 73 (1987): 7-11.
Magee, Paul, ‘Kierkegaard II: The Sequel.’ Cultural Studies Review 10.2 (2004): 114-31.
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McQuade, Donald. ‘Composition and Literary Studies.’ Stephen Greenblatt and Giles Gunn, eds Redrawing the Boundaries: The Transformation of English and American Literary Studies. New York: MLA, 1992. 482-519.
Michaels, Eric. Unbecoming: an AIDS Diary. Sydney: Empress, 1990.
Muecke, Stephen. ‘Coonardoo 1993.’ RePublica 2 (1995): 135-46.
_____, ‘Captain Cook’s Shoes.’ Island 60/61 (Spring/Summer 1994): 126-29.
_____. No Road (Bitumen All the Way). Fremantle: Fremantle Arts Centre, 1997.
_____, ‘The Fall: Fictocritical Writing.’ Brenda Walker, ed. The Writer’s Reader. Sydney: Halstead, 2002: 125-31.
Robb, Simon. ‘Academic Divination is not a Mysticism: Fictocriticism, Pedagogy and Hypertext.’ Caroline Guerin, Philip Butters and Amanda Nettlebeck, eds Crossing Lines: Formations of Australian Culture. Adelaide: Proceedings of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature Conference, 1995. 97-101.
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Sacks, Oliver. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. London: Picador, 1985.
Schlunke, Katrina, ‘Time, Nature and the Queered Kangaroo’ (unpublished paper).
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Shumway, David R., ‘The Star System in Literary Studies.’ PMLA 112.1 (January 1997): 85-100.
Sinclair, Iain. ‘Off-Beat.’ London Review of Books 18.11 (6 June 1996): 12-13.
Sofoulis, Zoe. ‘Cyberquake: Haraway’s Manifesto.’ Darren Tofts, Annemarie Jonson and Alessio Cavallaro, eds Prefiguring Cyberculture: An Intellectual History.
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Wright, Elizabeth. Speaking Desires can be Dangerous. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 1999.

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