Encounter and experiment with the essayistic, as we blend poetry, memoir, and criticism to create radical new forms.
How do we dust the essay form, take it off its academic pedestal, so it can actually touch us, and do something, or conversely how do we take the person out of the personal essay? Relinquish some of that hard-won control, or maybe the finessed vulnerability?
This course offers a provisional laboratory in which to encounter and experiment with essayistic works that sit between genres or blend criticism and memoir, poetry that’s in cahoots with the lecture, ‘body essays’, scholarly experiments that lyricise research or spit into the mouth of the academy, forms of poetic art writing.
Can we attend to and imagine a type of amalgamated writing that offers new ways of thinking, seeing, and being in which form is the crucial side-kick to any promise of political commitment? For that, we might rally humour, sensuousness, confusion, messiness, or maybe a type of rigour and seriousness free from the constraints of the scholarly rulebook. In some cases, this might also apply to design and typography. Where does the voice sit, dance, or swim in such a swamp of forms? When is clarity and precision needed, when can authority be surrendered and softened by being in conversation with other voices?
Some of the voices we will call upon and bring into the room include: Bhanu Kapil, Maureen McLane, Lisa Robertson, Mary Ruefle, Sara Ahmed, Jack Halberstam, Kate Briggs, Uljana Wolf, Hito Steyerl, Gordon Hall, Maria Fusco, Julietta Singh, Christine Brooke-Rose, Mary Capello, Paul Preciado, Sianne Ngai, Renee Gladman, Wayne Koestenbaum, Pauline Oliveros, amongst others.
With the help of these spirit guides, we will see the essay not as supplementary to but as the real work, a working on and working out. Sometimes we might need critical flamboyance, or silliness, or the vulnerability of not-knowing. How do we fumble our way out of a conundrum? How do we speak ‘of’ or write ‘on’ a subject where the saying sparkles with care? What does the lyric essay know? In its characteristically ambulatory form, it tip-toes around the understanding of a problem by sharing its processes of reading, writing, thinking, remembering, or doing something. It is all rumination, speculation, love. It might take some unlearning to get there.
5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.
To apply for a concessionary rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to [email protected] Conditions of eligibility are detailed here. If you have any questions or wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, please email [email protected]. For more information visit our Online Courses page.
Image Credit: europeana
About Sophie Seita View Profile
Sophie Seita is a London-based artist, writer, and researcher whose work explores text in its various translations into book objects, performances, videos, or other languages and embodiments. She’s performed or exhibited her work at [ SPACE ], La MaMa Galleria (NYC), Bold Tendencies, the Arnolfini, JNU (New Delhi), Kettle’s Yard, Parasol Unit, Flat Time House, Art Night London, Kunsthalle Darmstadt (Germany), Taller Bloc (Santiago de Chile) and elsewhere. She has also received funding and fellowships from the British Council, Canada Council, Creative Scotland, a-n, Dover Prize at Darlington, Yale, Princeton, Columbia University, Cambridge University, PEN America, Lambeth City Council, among others. Her latest books are: The Gracious Ones (Earthbound Press, 2020), My Little Enlightenment Plays (Pamenar, 2020), My Little Enlightenment: A Lecture Performance (Other Forms, 2019), and Provisional Avant-Gardes: Little Magazine Communities from Dada to Digital (Stanford University Press, 2019). She’s also the translator of Uljana Wolf’s Subsisters: Selected Poems (Belladonna*, 2017) and Etymological Gossip: Essays and Lectures (Nightboat Books, 2023, forthcoming). Other work has been featured in or is forthcoming from Ma Bibliothèque, Bloomsbury Publishing, The 87 Press, Bomb, Bricks from the Kiln, Jacket2, the TLS, Manifold: Experimental Criticism, TDR, The White Review, the Chicago Review, and 3:AM. She co-organises the (currently virtual) interdisciplinary Sound/Text seminar at Harvard, and last year was a tutor on the Alternative Education Programme at Rupert in Vilnius, Lithuania. She has taught and continues to teach in a number of institutional and non-institutional settings in the UK, Europe, and the US and is committed to an intersectional, interdisciplinary, and provisional pedagogy. More information about her performances, publications, workshops, and collaborative projects can be found on her website: https://www.sophieseita.com/.
'The Poetry School courses have been a lifeline for me. I have felt part of an international community of students, have learned a great deal, and have been given motivation to continue writing.'