Original Writing on Critical Theory and Creative ResearchAward presented by the MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research ProgramEntry submission: essay of 1,500 words or lessApplication deadline: Friday, May 31, 2013Theme: On Art and Disobedience; Or, What Is an Intervention?Cash award: 5,000 USDWinner announced by Saturday, August 31, 2013Please note that essays over the limit will be disqualified.The Hannah Arendt Prize in Critical Theory and Creative Research is an annual competition for those interested in the juncture of art and creative research and in the principles at the heart of the arts and humanities, including sense-based intelligence; the reality of singular, nonrepeatable phenomena; ethical vision; and consilience between inner and outer, nature and reason, thought and experience, subject and object, self and world.Application for the prize is open to the general public. Download the PDF application on our site at http://www.pnca.edu/graduate/c/ctcr and email the completed application and the essay (in a .doc or .pdf format) to firstname.lastname@example.org.Explication of theme:“To disobey in order to take action is the byword of all creative spirits. The history of human progress amounts to a series of Promethean acts. But autonomy is also attained in the daily workings of individual lives by means of many small Promethean disobediences, at once clever, well thought out, and patiently pursued, so subtle at times as to avoid punishment entirely. All that remains in such a case is an equivocal, diluted form of guilt. I would say that there is good reason to study the dynamics of disobedience, the spark behind all knowledge.”—Gaston Bachelard, Fragments of a Poetics of FireIntervention is an omnipresent if not ubiquitous word in contemporary discourse, but what forms does it take in the age of genetic engineering and real-time media? Is the concept a decoy or distraction in the face of futility? A cover or compensation for hopeless battles and set-ups? Is it simply working to slow down the Inevitable, a notion that in and of itself works as a major obstacle to critical thought and action? Or is it something more serious, more durable, and more dangerous? What is the relation of critique and intervention, theory and practice? And what role does art play in what Bachelard called “creative disobedience,” acts of Prometheanism “so subtle at times as to avoid punishment entirely”? Might art now comprise one of the last forms of political stealth, working in increasingly sophisticated time-based ways? What kinds of thought and action are powerful and compelling interventions today, whether one-off spectacles, sabots, monkey wrenches, sleepers, gummy bears, or Trojan Horses?Along with Anne-Marie Oliver, Founding Co-Chair, MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research, Pacific Northwest College of Art, and Barry Sanders, Founding Co-Chair, MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research, Pacific Northwest College of Art, the judges for 2013 includeClaire Bishop, Professor of Contemporary Art, Theory and Exhibition History, Graduate Center, The City University of New YorkJudith Butler, Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature, The University of California, Berkeley, and Hannah Arendt Professor of Philosophy, Europäische Universität für Interdisziplinäre Studien/EGSBarbara Duden, Professor Emerita, Leibniz Universität HannoverJulia Kristeva, Professor Emerita and Head of the École doctorale Langues, Littératures, Images, Université Paris Diderot, Paris 7, and recipient of the Hannah Arendt Award for Political ThoughtHeike Kühn, Film CriticMartha Rosler, Artist and contributor to the Hannah Arendt Denkraum (on the occasion of Hannah Arendt’s 100th birthday)For information on last year’s competition, please see http://www.artandeducation.net/announcement/the-hannah-arendt-prize-call-for-entries.
It’s a tricky thing to address pressing issues of the day in fiction without making prose do the work of preaching. In his new novel, Red Moon, the talented Benjamin Percy has taken on an ambitious project—a werewolf novel as political allegory—and he deftly negotiates the delicate balance between crafting commentary and a compelling literary creation.
To Be Seen, To Be Heard: Erica Lorraine Scheidt’s ‘Uses For Boys’
A YOUNG WOMAN PARTIES with a group of teenagers, her friends and peers. She passes out, and is raped, degraded, videotaped and photographed. There is a trial in which it seems like she is being prosecuted for the crime of being a young woman around young men. The complexities of young adult sexual violence have dominated cultural conversations in the wake of harrowing news out of Steubenville, Ohio, which could, unfortunately, be Anywhere, America. It is an all too familiar story.
Young adult fiction, at its best, exposes the complex emotional terrain of adolescence: the joys of maturation; the pain, confusion, and humiliation of growing into a different self. Young adult fiction also tells necessary stories about what happens to girls and boys as they try to make sense of their bodies and their desires, their changing relationships with family, friends, and themselves.
In Erica Lorraine Scheidt’s debut novel, Uses for Boys, she has created what might be considered both a bildungsroman and a coming of age novel, though the two are not quite the same things. Uses For Boys is about a young woman becoming a better version of herself, or, as the case may be, unbecoming one person and becoming someone else, someone older, wiser, and stronger.
Postcard from the Acela Express
Friends, I just spent three days in our nation’s capital. On Saturday, I read at 826 DC, a museum of unnatural history. D. Gilson blew me away. I was familiar with his work, and even included it in PANK. The poems he read, made me want to jump out of my seat. So great. It was also lovely to meet the crew for Folio Magazine. The reading was in celebration of their re-launched print magazine, of which I am a contributor. Check them out when you get a chance.
The train wobbles a lot which can be disconcerting. It’s like a really muscular mother is rocking us all to… a dull state of awakeness. I am not in the “quiet car” but the car I am in is quiet.
I am on my way to NYC, a city which brings out all my insecurities because everyone there is thin and beautiful and well-dressed and sophisticated, and I am, well, me. I will do my best to get through. Mostly, I am looking forward to seeing people I very much like and admire. I will be giving three readings—tonight at Franklin Park, tomorrow at KGB, and Saturday at the Brooklyn Lit Crawl. Between all these goings on, there will be meals and meetings with editors and agents and friends. I am also on a quest for good bras that are properly fitted.
Lots of men talked to me while I was in DC. It was weird because I’m not that girl. One guy asked me if I was looking for a boyfriend so I said, “Not today.” It was kind of the truth. At the moment he asked me, boyfriends were not on my mind. I was thinking, “I hope I don’t vomit at my reading tonight.” Another guy encouraged me to “keep up the good work.” I was like, why is he trying to motivate me, completely out of any discernible context? It was weird.
Last night, I read with Tracy Dimond, Michelle Dove, and Elliott Holt at The Big Hunt, a bar with three levels! And four bars! It was interesting, that bar. Our reading was held in a creepy basement. I had to tamp down all my neuroses for the duration because otherwise, I would have started screaming, WE ARE IN A DARK SMALL SPACE, SAVE YOURSELVES! It was a lovely reading though, hosted by the indefatigable Mark Cugini and the lovely Carrie Murphy, people I really enjoy and wish I could see more often.
After the reading, Elliott was hungry. We were all hungry but she took matters in hand. We went to a place called Shake Shack, which I have heard of but had not until last night, ever frequented. I had a mushroom burger. That is, the burger was a mushroom, filled with cheese. That’s some magical shit right there. While we were waiting for our food, we were chatted up by a guy who was wearing sunglasses, indoors, at night. He is a director, in search of a screenwriter, who will put his vision on the page in exactly the way he wants. So that was interesting. At one point in our conversation, he asked where I was from and I said, “Nebraska,” and mentioned that I was Haitian American and he said, “No, where are you from really?” I was confused because I thought I knew! But apparently, no. He said we’re all from Africa and I was thought, well, yes, if you want to go that far back. Anyway, his people are from East Africa. I said my people were from West Africa, which is to say, the other side of the continent. He just kept talking and talking and talking. I’m terrible about extricating myself from such situations. I always feel like I don’t want to be rude, but men, sometimes, they just feel entitled to your time. They have things to say and you are obligated to hear those things! Elliott wasn’t having it, though. She said she needed to eat and that was that. I would like to learn from her.
I’ve noted that every window on the train is an emergency exit. There is always a way out, no matter where you are. Wouldn’t it be nice if life were like that?
Postcard From Florida
Dear Internet Friends,
I am visiting my parents. They have a strange understanding of “air conditioning,” as something that should be set at 79 degrees. They like to wake me up in the morning, early, because they are awake, so why shouldn’t everyone be awake? Why doesn’t my dad remember the shortcuts for copying and pasting on the computer yet? A couple days ago, my dad was wearing jeans and my mom said, “Mmm. Your father looks great in jeans.” My sister-in-law and I were like, WOW, THAT JUST HAPPENED. My niece never stops moving, ever. Just watching her whiz around is exhausting. She walks all over the place and has these utterances that are actual words if you are paying attention, things like, wa, ca, clean, mama, gabba. Yo Gabba Gabba is baby crack. Put her in front of that show, and she becomes completely still, transfixed. She has very big eyes. I am fairly certain she is among the cutest babies alive. She still doesn’t like me very much but she’s so cute that I will forgive her. Mostly, she stares at me very skeptically, and once in a great while, I am allowed to touch her for approximately thirteen seconds. There is this trial taking place in Arizona concerning a woman named Jody Arias. My mother is very interested in this trial and as such, I am kind of an expert. Tonight she said, “Tomorrow is a big day,” and I said, “It’s Monday,” and she said, “Yes! The jury deliberates.” The trial is serious fucking business, okay? Last Monday, in Miami, my mom saw me read for the first time. She said I was, “fantastic,” and that she had to control herself from making a spectacle with her camera. She was also thrilled that people wanted my autograph. She thinks I’m famous now and so do some high school kids who attended. I’m not, as we know, but it’s still pretty neat. Swagger. And no biggie, but Edwidge Danticat showed up for my reading. I’m still not sure how i didn’t shit my pants. She seems very nice. I was too shy to say much to her. I also met my Twitter friend Riztey who was wonderful, and Patricia Engel who is very pretty and lovely too. After that, my mom and I went to Key West for a day and night. The beaches were beautiful. We took lots and lots of pictures. Then we drove to the Miami airport to pick up my dad, niece, and sister-in-law, just in from the motherland, and then we came home. It is very hard to work in Florida. The weather is beautiful and the people are very FLORIDA and time takes on a rather different quality. This has made progress on various important, deadline sensitive projects a bit of a challenge. The humidity is a bit much. You should know that. Yesterday, the Wigleaf 50 was released. I was thrilled to have a story on the shortlist and a story on the longlist, the whole of which you can peruse here. I’m excited to get into the rest of the list over the next while. Yesterday, I bought a pair of sunglasses because I left mine in the car at the airport in IND. The sun here is out to get me. It is seriously stalking me and trying to burn my eyeballs out of my head. Mostly what I’m saying is that my suitcase is not getting any lighter.
Meg Wolitzer is a bestselling novelist and an unapologetic advocate for women writers. I have been intrigued by her work since reading The Wife (2003), a book about a successful male novelist and the woman behind him that offers incisive, witty commentary on contemporary publishing and the roles of men and women in that world. Wolitzer is a force, and she has brought her ferocious energy, wit, and intelligence to bear on her latest novel, The Interestings, which follows a group of friends who meet at an arts camp as teenagers in the 1970s and remain connected throughout their lives. One member is exiled because of a terrible deed and another is abandoned in the wake of what goes wrong. As for the remaining Interestings, two become incredibly successful, amassing wealth and power, while the rest grapple with their own lives and how they live up to or fall short of the ambitious name they gave themselves when they were so young and knew so little.