process / processing
Judd Morrissey
Wednesday, 1-4
MI 1601

Course Description

This workshop focuses on experimental approaches to writing for print and the web. Our inquiries are influenced by an examination of writers in print who have extended or disrupted their own processes through the use of self-imposed compositional constraints and rules, or techniques such as cut-up and appropriation. We consider these historical practices as possible precursors to emerging forms of net-based and computer-generated writing and begin to explore the creative potential at the intersection of the writing process and the languages and processes of machines.

Students engage in generative writing exercises, computer lab tutorials, and present projects for response and critique. A selection of writers and literary artists examined may include Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Raymond Roussel, George Perec, John Ashbery, Jackson Mac Low, William S. Burroughs, Kathy Acker, Loss Glazier, and John Cayley. No significant computing experience is required.

Course Requirements

assignments: In addition to weekly exercises and readings, students will be required to present two works in progress throughout the semester as well as a mid-term and a final project. Works in progress may be derived from in-class exercises or independently, but should consider the experiments and techniques introduced in the class lab sessions.

individual meetings: I will provide the opportunity for individual meetings for feedback, discussion, and tutorials at mid-term and towards the end of the semester.

Attendance: It is very important to attend every class. Most topics build on previous lessons and discussions, and missing a session will reduce your ability to successfully complete assigned projects. We will begin promptly at 1pm, as we will have a lot to cover each week. If you arrive later than 1:30 without having provided a reasonable explanation in advance, you will be marked as absent. If you accumulate three absences, an automatic No-Credit will be given. Please also keep in mind that it is expected that no absences will be unexcused, that is, if you cannot make a session, it is your basic responsibility to contact the instructor in advance.

Course Structure

Our weekly sessions will typically be divided into three activities:
1) language lab: instructor-led writing exercises, group activities, time for writing and making.
2) student presentations of works-in-progress and responses
3) discussion of outside readings

Our activities throughout the semester will be broked down into three related areas of research and experimentation:
1) process / procedure (intuitive and constraint-based approaches to writing)
2. form / perform (addressing the visual, material, and performative qualities of text)
3. processing (using computer code as a tool for textual composition)

Weekly presentations:

Each week, two students will present works-in-progress to the class in the form of a reading, performance, or distributed piece. Because there will not be a great deal of time for critique in the weekly sessions, students may wish to send longer pieces to the rest of the group in advance of the presentation in order to receive more substantial feedback. If you intend for us to spend time with your piece beforehand, please let us know in class on the previous week and then send the file within 2-3 days (by Saturday). Substantial critique will be provided at mid-term and end-of-semester.

Syllabus note: Please note that the syllabus is updated weekly and, while it provides an overall framework, it is by no means a static document and should be referred to often.


This class will make use of the library's docutek service. Students are encouraged to acquire for themselves any of the books used for the class, but this is not required.

course e-reserves archive (in-progress)

Web Resources

Electronic Poetry Center
Electronic Book Review
Electronic Literature Organization Directory

Weekly Schedule

week 01

course introduction
handouts: James Joyce, George Perec
lab exercise: #1 what is remembered
reading: Lin Hejinian, My Life, Rejection of Closure
assignment: Bring print copy of revised exercise to class on week 02. This should consist of a composition on a single page (500 words or less), with the total number of sentences being equal to your current age. Do not include your name on the copy, only the year you were given for the exercise.

week 02

group reading from exercise #1
lab exercise: redaction / recomposition
reading: Paul Fournel, Suburbia

week 03

guest artist: Jen Karmin, A LINE is a BREATH is a POEM
reading: Charles Olson, Hannah Weiner, Susan Howe

week 04

orchestrated readings
lab exercise: translation and remix as composition
readings: Rosemarie Waldrop, Daniel Hofstadter, Gertrude Stein, Raymond Queneau, Mark Amerika
assignment: 50/50 texts

week 05

lab exercise: #4 news poems, cut-ups
Readings: Dada Manifestoes, William S. Burroughs, APO-33
reading/presentation from assignment
student presentations

week 06

lab exercise: #5 appropriation, plagiarism, reading as writing
student presentations
handouts: Joyce, Pound
Readings: Acker, Don Quixote; Mac Low, Words Nd Ends from Ez; Cage writing through Joyce

week 07

lab exercise: #6 Visuality
Reading: Mallarme, As For the Book; Un Coup de des n'abolira jamais le hasard student presentations

week 08

mid-term presentations

week 09

introduction to electronic literature Reading: The History of Computing Languages

week 10

mid-term discussion continued
lab: code intensive: text-processing
Reading: Mez, Netochka, Memmot

week 11

lab: code intensive: composing with loops
Readings: Mez, Netochka, Memmot

week 12

lab: code intensive: aesthetics of text parsing
Readings: Noah Wardrop-Fruin

week 13

Final Projects

week 14

No Class -- Critique Week

week 15

Final Projects