Attention Span 2011 | Paul Stephens
Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith, eds. | Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing | Northwestern | 2011
For me this was the year of the conceptual, as the following titles indicate.
Craig Dworkin | The Perverse Library | Information as Material | 2010
Use with caution: if you’re a small press bibliophile, this book may do serious damage to your book budget. This could be the most compelling survey to date of Anglo-American small press poetry publishing since 1970. Even if you don’t necessarily have a specialized interest in knowing precisely what the Constrained Balks Press of Toronto was publishing in 2002, you’ll enjoy The Perverse Library’s truly rad(ical) introduction.
Simon Morris | Getting Inside Jack Kerouac’s Head | Information as Material | 2010
Much more is going on here than may at first appear. Encountering GIJKH sent me into an all-night typing frenzy, during which I wrote a twelve page critical account of the book in relation to the complex textual and legal histories of On the Road. And you thought On the Road was just a bestselling novel about homosocial desire…
Rachel Haidu | The Absence of Work: Marcel Broodthaers, 1964-1976 | MIT | 2010
Everyone I know is either overemployed or underemployed, which makes this overview particularly timely. Here you will find an institutional critique of the post-Fordist art economy to last a lifetime.
Tan Lin | Various Cumbersome but Ingenious Titles | Various Presses | 2007-2011
Tan Lin may be our greatest living bard of the infosphere. He is so prodigious and so multimediatic that it would inimical to his project to name a single title. Insomnia and the Aunt (in a handsome chapbook edition) might be the best point of entry for non-professionals, but the many offshoots of the Heath […] and Seven Controlled Vocabularies projects are all worth a skim. If you’re un(der)employed, you might want to download online versions available at lulu.com or at Aphasic Letters.
Rob Fitterman | Now We Are Friends | Truck Books | 2010
So are we going to migrate to Google+? After already having migrated from Friendster to MySpace to Facebook? The coda in particular is an important contribution to the ongoing legacy of creep lit.
W.J.T. Mitchell and Mark B.N. Hansen, eds. | Critical Terms for Media Studies | Chicago | 2010
Scholars and non-scholars alike will find this a compelling survey of new media. Don’t be deceived by the prosaic title: this is really a collection of deeply informative essays on all aspects of contemporary new media studies.
Marcus Boon | In Praise of Copying | Harvard | 2010
It’s difficult to keep up with the reams of new criticism devoted to copyright in relation to literature and the arts (Paul K. St. Amour’s exceptional Modernism and Copyright deserves special mention in this category). Boon tackles “the madness of modern, capitalist framings of property” head on. You can procure a free online copy at the Harvard University Press web site (which will look better than the versions you’ll find on library.nu or AAAAARG.org).
Philip E. Aarons and Andrew Roth, eds. | In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955 | JRP Ringier | 2010
Literary journals could learn a lot from artists’ journals. This sumptuous collection will make your coffee table proud, as well as provide countless hours of delight and instruction.
M. NourbeSe Philip | Zong! | Wesleyan | 2008
This title briefly went out of print and jumped in price on Amazon, but fortunately it’s been reissued as an affordable paperback. No brief summary will do much to prepare you for this complex multi-generic work, which demonstrates how compelling the new conceptual/archival/procedural poetries can be in terms of content as well as form.
Ian Hamilton Finlay | Selections | California | 2011
Eagerly anticipated. Long overdue. In the meantime, I’m making due with the amazing (but out of print and expensive enough to merit inclusion in the Perverse Library) Ian Hamilton Finlay: A Visual Primer (MIT 1992).
Paul Stephens‘s recent critical writing has appeared in Social Text, Rethinking Marxism, Open Letter and Postmodern Culture. He has just completed a book manuscript titled The Poetics of Information Overload: From Gertrude Stein to Conceptual Writing. He lives in New York.