Spring 2010 Anschutz Lecture: Kenneth Goldsmith

Mon, Feb 15, 2010, 5:00 pm
Speaker(s): 
Sponsor(s): 
Program in American Studies

Introduction

With the rise of the web, writing has met its photography. Writing has encountered a situation similar to what happened to painting upon the invention of photography, a technology so much better at doing what the art form had been trying to do, that in order to survive, the field had to alter its course radically. If photography was striving for sharp focus, painting was forced to go soft, hence Impressionism. Faced with an unprecedented amount of digital available text, writing needs to redefine itself in order to adapt to the new environment of textual abundance.

How can writing respond? Due to changes brought on by technology and the internet, our notion of literary genius — a romantic isolated figure — is outdated. An updated notion of genius centers around one's mastery of information and its dissemination. Today the contemporary writer must “move information,” signifying both the act of pushing language around as well as the act of being emotionally moved by that process. Today’s writer resembles more a programmer than a tortured genius, brilliantly conceptualizing, constructing, executing and maintaining a writing machine.

Biography

Kenneth Goldsmith’s writing has been called “some of the most exhaustive and beautiful collage work yet produced in poetry” by Publishers Weekly. Goldsmith is the author of ten books of poetry, founding editor of the online archive UbuWeb (ubu.com), and the editor of I'll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews, which was the basis for an opera Trans-Warhol that premiered in Geneva in March of 2007. An hour-long documentary on his work, “Sucking on Words” premiered at the British Library in 2007. Kenneth Goldsmith is the host of a weekly radio show on New York City's WFMU. He teaches writing at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is a senior editor of PennSound, an online poetry archive. Goldsmith received the Qwartz Electronic Music Award in Paris in 2009. A book of critical essays, Uncreative Writing, is forthcoming from Columbia University Press, as is Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing, an anthology from Northwestern University Press co-edited with Craig Dworkin.

2009-10 Anschutz Distinguished Fellow in American Studies Kenneth Goldsmith is teaching “Uncreative Writing” in the spring 2010 semester.