Thursday, February 21, 2013

New Directions Proposal: Oppositional Appropriation: Toward an Ethics of Appositional Writing

Ryan Clark will present "Toward an Ethics of Appositional Writing."

Drawing heavily from the work of various feminist moral philosophers, I make an argument for what I call appositional writing, which uses appropriative methods (cut-up, erasure, collage, homophonic translation) to craft ethically reparative poetry, and which places emphasis on considerateness and an awareness of power relations within each specific act of appropriation. As I illustrate the central tenets of appositional writing, I will explain three risks that may lead such a project to become ethically problematic, or even outright damaging to the overall climate of trust; I refer to these risks as the Risk of Arrogance in Appropriation (or the Risk of Exceeding Permissions), the Risk of Asymmetrical Power Relations, and the Risk of Exceeding Reasonable Responsibility. Appositional writing runs the risk of damaging the climate of trust by assuming more than what one might reasonably expect to claim as one’s own. Asymmetrical power relations along sociopolitical lines between author and source material may magnify this issue. The case of Raymond McDaniel’s Saltwater Empire will serve as an example of an ethically problematic work of appropriative writing that fails to adequately consider these risks. McDaniel’s book is but part of a larger and compelling trend toward documentarian investigation in contemporary poetry, and as more and more writers turn toward appropriation and documentary as a means toward political opposition and advocacy for disempowered populations, it becomes important to consider the ethical impact of these practices--both positive and negative.

Ryan Clark wants to make a pun. He thinks about puns while working on his dissertation, while teaching and studying at Illinois State University, while eating cereal (Cheery Hose?). In his poetry he is largely concerned with homophonic translation, the reparative potential of appropriative writing, and how poetry responds to violence and subjugation, symbolic and otherwise. Ryan is a 4th year doctoral student in English Studies specializing in creative writing, although, understandably, part of him wishes he'd just settle down and be a linguist. His poetry has appeared in Fact-Simile, Monkey Puzzle, and Seven Corners, and is forthcoming from Tenderloin.

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