English Composition As A Happening

English Composition As A Happening

GEOFFREY SIRC
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 330
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46nx7x
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  • Book Info
    English Composition As A Happening
    Book Description:

    What happened to the bold, kicky promise of writing instruction in the 1960s? The current conservative trend in composition is analyzed allegorically by Geoffrey Sirc in this book-length homage to Charles Deemer's 1967 article, in which the theories and practices of Happenings artists (multi-disciplinary performance pioneers) were used to invigorate college writing. Sirc takes up Deemer's inquiry, moving through the material and theoretical concerns of such pre- and post-Happenings influences as Duchamp and Pollock, situationists and punks, as well as many of the Happenings artists proper.With this book, already a cult classic, began a neo-avant-garde for composition studies.Winner of the Ross W. Winterowd Award for most outstanding book in composition theory.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-463-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[viii])
  3. 0 THE STILL-UNBUILT HACIENDA
    (pp. 1-32)

    I suppose the reason none of us burn incense in our writing classes any more is because of the disk drives. Smoke’s not supposed to be good for them, right? But what about the sounds, the candlelight, the students on the floor, the dark? What about thatother sceneof writing instruction? Where has that gone, the idea of the writing classroom as blank canvas, ready to be inscribed as a singular compositional space?

    The next class was held in the same room; only this time I made a few alterations in the physical arrangements. There were no neat lines...

  4. 1 “WHAT IS COMPOSITION … ?” AFTER DUCHAMP (Notes Toward a General Teleintertext)
    (pp. 33-68)

    1. English Composition as a Happening (as all composition that followed him does, consciously or not) begins with Duchamp. When Richard Kostelanetz interviews Allan Kaprow, who coined the termHappening, “the conversation opens with Kaprow speaking of Marcel Duchamp” (The Theatre of Mixed Means102). Calvin Tomkins calls the influence of Duchamp on Robert Rauschenberg, creator of some of the most poetically charged Happenings-like theater events of the era, “crucial … , confirming and reinforcing what must often have seemed a highly questionable use of [his] talent” (Off the Wall131). There is that amazing moment of desire, in 1954, when...

  5. 2 THE AMERICAN ACTION WRITERS
    (pp. 69-120)

    Two brief comments, made in fairly proximate places, in New York, at almost precisely the same moment in time, August 1956, revealing two radically different world views. First:

    Life is beautiful, the trees are beautiful, the sky is beautiful. Why is it that all I can think about is death? (Naifeh and Smith 789)

    This morose remark was made by a compositionist who’d neared the end; whose theories, forms, processes, relationships, even his own body—all had entirely worn down. His very life, in fact, as this speaker was to die about a day after he articulated this stark vision....

  6. 3 SCENES FROM LATE SIXTIES COMPOSITION
    (pp. 121-183)

    Washington, D.C., April 1966, at a six-day arts festival (designed to be an extravaganza of the most progressive work in theater, dance, and film, and given the suitably pop title of the NOW Festival). Over those six days, festival-goers saw performances by John Cage, the Velvet Underground, Robert Whitman, and Yvonne Rainer. On the opening night of the festival, though, they sat down to the following, a theatre-event entitledLinoleum: First, a dancer was seen seated on a Chippendale chair mounted on a rolling platform. She was wearing an old-fashioned wedding dress and in her lap was a pot of...

  7. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  8. 4 WRITING CLASSROOM AS A & P PARKING LOT
    (pp. 185-234)

    Happenings came about, in large part, because Allan Kaprow realized that Jackson Pollock had exposed the central lie of composition. Jackson, Kaprow had understood, realized that traditional notions of form had become entirely beside the point. In Jackson’s art, “the confines of the rectangular field were ignored in lieu of an experience of a continuum going in all directions simultaneously,beyondthe literal dimensions of any work” (“Legacy” 26). Jackson saw the arbitrariness of form: “The four sides of [Jackson’s] painting are thus an abrupt leaving-off of the activity which our imaginations continue outward indefinitely, as though refusing to accept...

  9. 5 NEVER MIND THE TAGMEMICS, WHERE’S THE SEX PISTOLS?
    (pp. 235-262)

    Our story begins, as always, with lack and desire. It’s 1975, the yearOn Righting Writing: Classroom Practices in Teaching English 1975–1976appeared, in answer to the “great concern for the quality of student writing” (Clappvii) expressed in an open meeting on classroom practices at the 1974 convention of NCTE. The preface to this the thirteenth report from the Committee on Classroom Practices informs us that “there was no doubt in the mind of anyone attending the meeting that the improvement of writing instruction should be the theme of this [report]” (vii). Whether or not the variety of...

  10. 6 ENGLISH COMPOSITION AS A HAPPENING II
    (pp. 263-294)

    This book has shown my interest in work that explores practice: work that can be used to think about pedagogy, texts, materials, issues of production and reception, and particularly issues of form and content (what’s used in Composition, what’s not, and what other fields with the idea of composition at the center are using). I’ve especially been interested in recuperating ideas from the past—most obviously those figures like Duchamp, Pollock, the Happenings artists, the situationists, and the Sex Pistols, all of whom I consider compositionists-at-large; but also, in terms of the field of Composition Studies, from compositionists I’ve loosely...

  11. REFERENCES
    (pp. 295-310)
  12. Bonus Track: FUNERAL CEREMONY OF THE ANTI-PROCÈS II A happening for CCCC
    (pp. 311-313)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 314-318)
  14. ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    (pp. 319-319)