Reading the Illegible

Reading the Illegible

4.35 (37 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 2 business days


When will my order arrive?

Available. Expected delivery to the United States in 7-10 business days.


Not ordering to the United States? Click here.

Description

A poet takes another's text, excises this, prints over that, cancels, erases, rearranges, defaces--and generally renders the original unreadable, at least in its original terms. What twentieth-century writers and artists have meant by such appropriations and violations, and how the "illegible" results are to be read, is the subject Craig Dworkin takes up in this ambitious work.

In his scrutiny of selected works, and with reference to a rich variety of textual materials--from popular and scientific texts to visual art, political and cultural theories, and experimental films--Dworkin proposes a new way of apprehending the radical formalism of so-called unreadable texts. Dworkin unveils what he describes as "the politics of the poem"--what is signified by its form, enacted by its structures, and implicit in the philosophy of language; how it positions its reader; and other questions relating to the poem as material object. In doing so, he exposes the mechanics and function of truly radical formalism as a practice that move beyond aesthetic considerations into the realms of politics and ideology. Reading the Illegible asks us to reconsider poetry as a physical act, and helps us to see how the range of a text's linguistic and political maneuvers depends to a great extent on the material conditions of reading and writing as well as the mechanics of reproduction.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 232 pages
  • 155.45 x 228.6 x 14.99mm | 353.8g
  • Evanston, United States
  • English
  • 0810119277
  • 9780810119277
  • 821,946

Back cover copy

A poet takes another's text, excises this, prints over that, cancels, erases, rearranges, defaces-and generally renders the original unreadable, at least in its original terms. What twentieth-century writers and artists have meant by such appropriations and violations, and how the "illegible" results are to be read, is the subject Craig Dworkin takes up in this ambitious work.
Reading the Illegible explores such formal and structural manipulations in a wide range of exemplary cases: John Cage's and Jackson MacLow's practices of "writing-through" other texts; the intentional "cancellations" of text by book artist Ken Campbell and conceptual artist Marcel Broodthaers; Susan Howe's experiments in typography and cultural transmission; visual complexity in Charles Bernstein, Stan Brakhage, and Rosemarie Waldrop; the "sedimentary" texts of post-minimalist artist Robert Smithson and poets Steve McCaffery and Christopher Dewdney; the tactics of erasure employed by the poet Ronald Johnson and book artist Tom Phillips. In his scrutiny of these works, and with reference to a rich variety of contextual materials--from popular and scientific texts to visual artworks, political and cultural theories, and experimental films-Dworkin proposes a new way of apprehending the radical formalism of such unreadable texts. His method seeks to unveil what Dworkin describes as "the politics of the poem"-what is signified by its form, enacted by its structures, implicit in the philosophy of language, how it positions its reader, and other questions relating to the poem as material object. In doing so, he exposes the mechanics and function of truly radical formalism as a practice that moves beyond aesthetic considerations into the realm of politics and ideology. Thus this book asks us to reconsider poetry as a physical act, and helps us to see how the range of a text's linguistic and political maneuvers depends to a great extent on the material conditions of reading and writing as well as on the mechanics of reproduction.
show more

Review quote

"Craig Dworkin's witty and highly incisive study of contemporary poems that deliberately erase, deface, appropriate, and "vandalize" the surface of their texts is a critical sensation." --Boston Review
show more

About Craig Dworkin

Craig Dworkin teaches in the English department at Princeton University.
show more

Rating details

37 ratings
4.35 out of 5 stars
5 54% (20)
4 30% (11)
3 14% (5)
2 3% (1)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X