Experimental Criticism: A Workshop in Reading and Writing with Anahid Nersessian

Sunday, November 14, 2021, 1–3pm

Image: Kenji Takahashi
Text: Helen Mirra, Hourly Directional Field Notation, Bretagne

About this workshop

This is an online workshop and will take place on Zoom.

Date: Sunday, November 14, 2021
Time: 1-3pm EST (2 hours) 
Capacity: 20 participants
Cost: $25–$75 (Sliding scale, discounted from $40–$90)
Register here.

How can experimental criticism invite us to argue without ego, to undo the links between intelligence and arrogance, knowledge and domination—beyond the desire to be the smartest person in the room? “Criticism” might imply control, mastery, detachment, and a general attitude of knowing it all. An experiment, by contrast, asks us to be vulnerable to thought—to surprise ourselves and even say the wrong thing. We choose the experiment because we have a point to make, and making it unpredictably is part of the point. Experimental Criticism is a writing-intensive workshop using interpretive forms such as the index and monologue to animate our objects of attention in unexpected ways. Participants will be asked to bring an object of study, in any medium or genre, as a point of departure for a series of writing exercises. We will approach various techniques for reading/observing/listening to help us change our practice at the level of word and sentence, in search of a critical language that is both innovative and focused. Exercises will reference and take inspiration from the writing of Renee Gladman, Bernadette Mayer, Helen Mirra, Fred Moten, and Rachel Pollack.

About the instructor

Anahid Nersessian is a literary critic and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in The New York Review of Books, Critical Inquiry, The Los Angeles Review of Books, n+1, The Paris Review and elsewhere. She is the author of three books, most recently Keats's Odes: A Lover's Discourse, 2021 and the co-founder and co-editor of the series Thinking Literature, published by the University of Chicago Press.


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