PERF06111 2019 Experimental Literature, Drama and Writing

General Details

Full Title
Experimental Literature, Drama and Writing
Transcript Title
Experimental Literature, Drama
80 %
Subject Area
PERF - Performing Arts
YADA - Yeats Academy Art Dsgn & Arch
06 - NFQ Level 6
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2019 - Full Academic Year 2019-20
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Tom Weir, Una Mannion, Rhona Trench, Jay Starliper
Programme Membership
SG_HWRIT_H08 201900 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Writing and Literature SG_APERF_H08 201900 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Performing Arts SG_APERA_B07 201900 Bachelor of Arts in Performing Arts (Acting) SG_APERT_B07 201900 Bachelor of Arts in Performing Arts (Theatre Design) SG_HWLIT_H08 202000 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Writing and Literature

Emerging from the twilight of the 19th century, experimental artists revolted against traditional aesthetic boundaries in search of more fundamental forms of creative expression.  This module introduces learners to a variety of poets, directors, playwrights and novelists who shattered contemporary rules by creating their own.  Learners will be given an overview of the history of experimental writing generally related to the literary movements of Dada, Surrealism, Literature of the Absurd, Le Nouveau Roman, Oulipo, magic realism, speculative fiction, fabulist fiction and bizarro fiction. The module will examine structural, stylistic and thematic innovations including the use of non-sequitur, parataxis, collage, absurd situations, anti-heroes/heroines, ironic bathos, cut-up techniques, stream-of-consciousness, hybrid discourse, genre mashing, alternate cultures, hyperbole, unconventional syntax, fragmented narration and metafiction.





Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Identify and analyse avant-garde, innovative or experimental practices in a range of literary work.


Develop his or her own experimental practice in one or more genres studied for this module.


Write an accompanying reflective essay exploring the nature of the avant-garde and explaining why their work can be defined as experimental or innovative.


Examine the theory, philosophy and tradition of experimental literature, drama and writing.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

This module will be delivered through a combination of complementary lectures on relevant literary movements, theories, authors and forms, as well as seminar discussions and writing workshops. There will be at least one informal student presentation included within the seminars. Most sessions will involve both critical and creative work. Students will have the opportunity to cultivate their own individual creative voice and refine their creative practice through peer review, writing workshops and individual writing tutorials.  Materials produced by staff and students will be posted online in order to facilitate discussion and support the learning outcomes of the module.

Module Assessment Strategies

One piece of coursework incorporating a 1500 word or equivalent portfolio of writing in one or more forms of experimental writing studied  30%

Reflective essay of 1500 words on how we define the experimental which will incorporate a commentary on their own work 30%

Mid Term 20%

Final Exam 20%



Repeat Assessments

Repeat exam

Indicative Syllabus

Throughout this module learners will work on the question, 'What is experimental literature?' by engaging with some of the most original voices in the history of art, including, among others, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, Franz Kafka, André Breton, James Joyce, Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett, William Gaddis, Claude Simon, Kenneth Patchen, Henry Miller, William S. Burroughs, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Italo Calvino, Paul Metcalf, Donald Barthelme, Orson Welles, Philip Glass and Kurt Vonnegut.

Learners will also explore contemporary social, historical and cultural contexts through the work of writers such as Diane Williams, Stacey Levine, Steven Millhauser, Amelia Gray, César Aira, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, Michael Martone, Steve Katz, Gary Lutz, Haruki Murakami, Karen Russell, Roberto Bolaño, George Saunders, Victor Pelevin, Ben Marcus, Rick Moody, Aimee Bender and David Foster Wallace.




Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Piece of writing in experimental mode Practical Assessment 30 % OnGoing 1,2,4
2 Term Essay Project Assignment 30 % End of Semester 1,3,4

End of Semester / Year Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Experimental Literature Final Exam Final Exam Open Book Exam 20 % End of Term 1,4
2 Experimental Literature Midterm Exam Final Exam Open Book Exam 20 % Week 6  

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Flat Classroom Experimental Literature 1 Weekly 1.00
Tutorial Flat Classroom Tutorial 2 Weekly 2.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 3.00 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Required Reading
2014-09-30 The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature Routledge
ISBN 1138797383 ISBN-13 9781138797383

What is experimental literature? How has experimentation affected the course of literary history, and how is it shaping literary expression today? Literary experiment has always been diverse and challenging, but never more so than in our age of digital media and social networking, when the very category of the literary is coming under intense pressure. How will literature reconfigure itself in the future? The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature maps this expansive and multifaceted field, with essays on: the history of literary experiment from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present the impact of new media on literature, including multimodal literature, digital fiction and code poetry the development of experimental genres from graphic narratives and found poetry through to gaming and interactive fiction experimental movements from Futurism and Surrealism to Postmodernism, Avant-Pop and Flarf. Shedding new light on often critically neglected terrain, the contributors introduce this vibrant area, define its current state, and offer exciting new perspectives on its future. This volume is the ideal introduction for those approaching the study of experimental literature for the first time or looking to further their knowledge.

Required Reading
2015-12-01 Experience and Experimental Writing Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN 0190270047 ISBN-13 9780190270049

American pragmatism is premised on the notion that to find out what something is, look to fruits rather than roots. But the thought of the classical pragmatists is itself the fruit, this book argues, of earlier literary experiments in American literature. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, and (contemporaneously with the flowering of pragmatism) Henry James, each in their different ways prefigure at the level of literary form what emerge as the guiding ideas of classical pragmatism. Specifically, this link occurs in the way an experimental approach to composition informs the classical pragmatists' guiding and central idea that experience is not a matter of correspondence but of an ongoing attunement to the process. The link between experience and experiment is thus a way of gauging the deeper intellectual history by which literary experiments such as Emerson's Essays, Poe's invention of the detective story in "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," Melville's strange follow-up to Moby-Dick, Pierre, and Henry James's late style, find their philosophical expression in some of the guiding ideas of classical pragmatism: Charles Peirce's notion of the "abductive" inference; William James's notion of "Radical empiricism" and John Dewey's naturalist account of experience. The book frames this set of claims in relation to more contemporary debates within literary criticism and philosophy that have so far not been taken up in this context: putting Richard Poirier's account of the relation of pragmatism to literature into dialogue with Stanley Cavell's inheritance of Emerson as someone decidedly not a "pragmatist"; to the differences between classical pragmatists like William James and John Dewey and more recent, post-linguistic turn thinkers like Richard Rorty and Robert Brandom.

Required Reading
2000-03-30 Ulysses Penguin UK
ISBN 9780141182803 ISBN-13 0141182806

For Joyce, literature 'is the eternal affirmation of the spirit of man'. Written between 1914 to 1921, it has survived bowdlerisation, legal action and bitter controversy. An undisputed modernist classic, its ceaseless verbal inventiveness and astonishing wide-ranging allusions confirm its standing as an imperishable monument to the human condition. Declan Kiberd says in his introduction Ulysses is 'An endlessly open book of utopian epiphanies. It holds a mirror up to the colonial capital that was Dublin on 16 June 1904, but it also offers redemptive glimpses of a future world which might be made over in terms of those utopian moments.' This edition is the standard Random House/Bodley Head text that first appeared in 1960. 'Everybody knows now that Ulysses is the greatest novel of the century.' Anthony Burgess

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Bradbury, Malcolm. & McFarlane, James, eds., Modernism 1890-1930, London: Penguin, 1976.

Bray, Joe, Gibbons, Alison and McHale, Brian, The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature, Routledge 2012. ELECTRONIC BOOK:

Bürger, Peter, Theory of the Avant-Garde, trans.Michael Shaw, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984.

Connor, S. Postmodernist Culture: An Introduction to Theories of the Contemporary, Oxford: Blackwell 1997.

Davidson, Ian, Ideas of Space in Contemporary Poetry. Basingstoke, Hampshire and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

Dekoven, Marianne, A Different Language: Gertrude Stein’s Experimental Writing, Wisconsin 1983.

Dencker, K. P., “From Concrete to Visual Poetry, with a Glance into the Electronic Future”,

Everett, P. 1997. ‘F/V: Placing the Experimental Novel’, Callaloo, Vol.22, No.1 (Winter): 18–23. [Available through JSTOR]

Berry, R.M. "The Question of Writing Now: FC2 responds to Ben Marcus". Publisher of FC2. symploke. 14.1-2 (Winter-Spring 2006): 316+. 

Bondanella, Peter, “Italo Calvino and Umberto Eco” in The Cambridge Companion to the Italian Novel, Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Frost, Elisabeth, The Feminist Avant-Garde in American Poetry, University of Iowa Press, 2003.

Glazier, Loss Pequeño, Epilogue. Between the Academy and a Hard Drive: An E-cology of Innovative Practice” OL3: open letter on lines online (2000), ed. Darren Wershler-Henry UbuWeb Papers:

Gundel, T. 1981. ‘The Double Articulation of Experimental Writing’, MLN, Vol.96,

Huk, Romana, Assembling Alternatives: Reading Postmodern Poetries Transnationally, Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 2003.

Hutcheon, Linda. The Politics of Postmodernism, London: Routledge, 1989.

Ionesco, Eugene, The Chairs (1958), trans. Martin Crimp, London: Faber, 1997.

Italo Calvino, If on a Winter's Night a Traveller (1981) trans. William Weaver, London: Vintage Classics 1992.

Kolocotroni, V., Goldman, J. and Taxidou, O., eds., Modernism: An Anthology of Sources and Documents, Edinburgh University Press, 1984.

Kostelanetz, Richard, The Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes, Pennington, N.J.: A Cappella Books, 1993.

Krauss, Rosalind E., The Originality of the Avant-Garde and other Modernist Myths, Cambridge, Mass.; London, England: MIT Press, 1985.

Kristeva, Julia, Revolution in Poetic Language, trans. Margaret Waller, New York: Columbia University Press, 1984.

Lodge, David, The Modes of Modern Writing: Metaphor, Metonymy, and the Typology of Modern Literature, London: Edward Arnold, 1977.

Mathews, Harry and Brotchie, Alastair eds., Oulipo compendium, London: Atlas Press, 2005.

McGann, J. 2001. Radiant Textuality: Literature after the World Wide Web. Hampshire and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Nicholls, Peter, Modernisms: A Literary Guide, London, Macmillan, 1995. No.3, German Issue (April): 580–603. [Available through JSTOR]

Perloff, Margorie. 21st-century Modernism: The "New" Poetics, Blackwell Manifestos, Wiley and Blackwell, 2001.

Perloff, Marjorie, The Dance Of The Intellect: Studies in the Poetry of the Pound (Avante Garde and Modernism Studies), Northwestern University Press, 1990.

… Poetic License: Essays on Modernist and Postmodernist Lyric, Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1990.

…. Digital Poetics: The Making of E-Poetries. Tuscaloosa and London: The University of Alabama Press, 2002.

Poggioli, Renato, The Theory of the Avant-Garde, trans. Gerald Fitzgerald, Cambridge,(Mass.); London: Belknap Press, 1981.

Rothenberg, Jerome, Poems for the Millennium; the University of California Book of Modern and Postmodern Poetry, Vol. 2 (From Postwar to Millenium), Berkeley, California and London: University of California Press, 1998.

Shapton, Leanne, Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry London: Bloomsbury, 2009.

Sheffield Hallam University MDT Interim Version 2, May 2012

Smith. Hazel, The writing experiment: strategies for innovative creative

Stein, Gertrude, Lifting Belly, ed. Rebecca Mark, Tallahassee, FL: Naiad Press,1989 or reprinted in The Yale Gertrude Stein / selections, ed. and intro. Richard Kostelantz, New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1980.

Suleiman, Susan R., Subversive Intent: Gender, Politics, and The Avant-Garde, Cambridge, Mass.; London: Harvard University Press, 1990.

Tradition, Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1996.

writing, Crows Nest, N.S.W.:, Northam : Allen & Unwin, Roundhouse, 2005.

Journal Resources

Journal of Beckett Studies, Cambridge University Press

JSTOR - Available at IT Sligo library data base


Dalkey Archives

Journal of Experimental Fiction

Fiction Collective Two, 

Fiction International, 

New Directions, 

Pank Magazine

Starcherone Press

Spuyten Duyvil

Sleeping Fish

Unstuck Books.

URL Resources

Additional Information