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Fictocriticism at the University of Technology, Sydney

Professional Strand – Writing – 200 Level (2nd Year). School of Writing and Contemporary Cultures Fictocriticism, 2008.

Coordinator: Dr Gareth Jenkins


Ficto-criticism deforms the limits of literary genres, working both within and beyond them. Post-romantic in conception, it is driven less by the individual imagination and more by the material and attitudes thrown up by the writer's encounter with everyday political emergencies. At its simplest, it makes a persuasive argument while telling an engaging story; at its most complex, it is a surrealist montage of different styles and media. Ficto-criticism can label a wide variety of styles – the renaissance tradition of the essay (from Montaigne to Barthes); the new journalism of Joan Didion; the travelling philosophy of Alphonso Lingis; and the hallucinatory ethnographies of Mick Taussig.


Ficto-critical writing aims to develop students' intellectual and writing skills simultaneously. Students will aim to develop arguments in narrative frameworks, to workshop particular techniques such as montage, characterisation, and discontinuous narrative. Students will develop their reading and critical skills through the classroom discussion of samples of ficto-critical writing. These ficto-critical models will inform and develop the original texts of the students themselves.


Task one: 2000-3000 words
Taking 'Local Consumption' as your working title, compose a 2000 -3000 word (moving image, music etc) piece that responds to the ideas of consumption and local.
Task two: 1000-1500 words
Write a ficto-critical text on the topic 'Sensing Selves'. You are able to define, redefine , cut-up or pervert this title as long as doing so reflects a knowledge and appreciation of the history and cultural meanings of the idea of 'the senses' and 'the self'.
Task three: Journal responses

Students are to complete four written responses (300 words each) to the topics/readings for four different weeks of semester. In the final week of class students are to hand in these responses for assessment and deliver a 5 minute verbal overview of them (about 500 words).

Reading schedule

Readings: Becoming fictocritical
  • Brewster, A. (1996) 'Fictocriticism: Undisciplined Writing' in (Ed Hutchison and Williams), Writing-Teaching, Teaching Writing, Conference Proceedings, UTS, pp 29-32.
  • Game, A. & Metcalfe, A. (1996) 'Writing' in Passionate Sociology, Sage, London, pp 87-105.
  • Borges, J.L. (2000) 'Borges and I' in Labyrinths, Penguin, London, pp 282-3.
  • Hughes, J. (2007) ‘Preface’ in Someone Else: Fictional Essays, Giramondo Publishing Company, Sydney, pp xi-xviii
Readings: Midden heaps
  • Gibson, R. (2002) excerpts from Seven Versions of an Australian Badland, UQP, pp 1-17.
  • Leiris, M. (1939) 'Prologue' from Manhood: A Journey from Childhood into the Fierce Order of Virility, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 3-15.
  • Dening, G. (1996) 'Ethnography on My Mind' in Performances, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, pp 5-35.
Readings: Confabulation
  • Serres, M. (1997) excerpt 'Upbringing' from Troubadour of Knowledge, trans. Sheila Faria Glaser with William Paulson, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, pp 3-13.
  • Sacks, O. (1985), 'A Matter of Identity' in The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, Pan, London, pp 103-110.
Readings: Dear Regina
  • Bartlett, A. ‘Dear Regina: formative conversations about feminist writing’, FemTAP, Summer 2006.
Readings: Trust
  • Lingis, A. (2002) 'Typhoons' in Cultural Studies Review, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp 95-102.
  • Muecke, S. (2008) 'Momentum' in Joe in the Andamans and other fictocritical stories, Local Consumption Publications, Sydney, pp 106-115.
Readings: Flowers
  • Taussig, M. 'The Language of Flowers' in Walter Benjamin's Grave, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 189-218.
Readings: Cinema
  • Muecke, S. (2002) 'The Fall: Fictocritical Writing' in Parallax, Vol. 8, No. 4, October-December, pp 108-112.
  • Rohdie, S. 'Introduction' in Promised Lands: Cinema, Geography, Modernism, BFI, London, pp 1-21.
Readings: Writing in blood
  • Diprose, R. (2002) 'Conclusion' from Corporeal Generosity: On Giving with Neitzsche, Merleau-Ponty and Levinas, State University New York Press, Albany, pp 189-196.
  • Byrne, D. (2007) 'Traces of 65' in Surface Collection: Archaeological Travels in Southeast Asia, AltaMira Press, Landham, pp 81-98.
  • Nietzsche, F. (2003) 'Zarathustra's Prologue' in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Penguin, London, pp 39-53.
Readings: No ground
Readings: Inhabitation
  • Hughes, J. (2007) ‘Blues’ in Someone Else: Fictional Essays, Giramondo Publishing Company, Sydney, pp 55-66.
  • Muecke, S. (2008) ‘Choreomanias: Movements through our Body’ in Joe in the Andamans and other fictocritical stories, Local Consumption Publications, Sydney, pp 68-79.
Readings: Strolling with Baudelaire
  • Benjamin, W. (1979) excerpt from 'One Way Street' in One Way Street and Other Writings, NLB, London, pp 45-71.
  • Tournier, M. (1997), 'Chapter Twelve' from Friday, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, pp 229-235.

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