Traditionally, we categorize literature as prose, poetry, and drama. However, many texts do not easily fit into these prominent categories. Especially the use of images, performances, videos or other material that goes beyond the written text complicates discussions of genre. In this class, we will focus on four books that experiment with new forms of writing. Gumbs’s M Archive looks at the future and deals with climate change and the current crisis employing a form of writing that resists categorization and thereby stresses the content of the work. While Gumbs focusses on issues of the environment, Rankine deals with inequality in the American society, racism in particular. Her use of images in the text as well as documents and other insertion of non-fiction form a new genre to draw attention to forms of visibility and invisibility that are at the core of racism. Briante’s work deals likewise with current American politics. Our fourth example, ELADATL, is a surrealist history of Air Transport in Los Angeles, a text created together with communities through performances.
Please purchase and read:
- Alexis Pauline Gumbs, M Archive. After the End of the World (Duke University Press, 2018)
- Claudia Rankine, Just Us. An American Conversation (Penguin Books, 2020)
- Susan Briante, Defacing the Monument. (Noemi Press, 2020)
- Sesshu Foster and Arturo Ernesto Romo, ELADETL. A History of the East Los angeles Dirible Air Transport Lines. (City Light Books, 2020)