Poets and Critics 2016.2 Johanna Drucker Symposium Recordings


Thursday 2 June, afternoon session, Université Paris Diderot.


Friday 3 June, morning session, Université Paris Diderot.


Friday 3 June, afternoon session, Université Paris Diderot.

Johanna Drucker: Literary Tactics and Themes in the Books

Following the last day of the symposium, Johanna Drucker was kind enough to send us a list of books and notes to her books, thus providing us with new points of entry into her work.

JD: Literary tactics and themes in the books

Works self-referentially about language:

1976: Twenty-six ’76 (found, overheard, narrative, and meta-descriptive commentary all from a trip to Los Angeles; each page is a slice through that time-sequence)

1977: From A to Z (inventory of poetical styles and approaches to composition)

1978: Experience of the Medium (language terms/visual terms defined in a system)

1981: Dolls of the Spirit (focus on prepositions as transformative, images of objects that are transformative)
1983: Tongues: A Parent Language (procedural work from linguistic text)

1983: Just As (challenge of designatory and descriptive language)

1983: Against Fiction (pendant to Just As addressing the conventions of fiction)

1986: Through Light and the Alphabet (typographic fugue on linguistic polyvalence)

1987: Bookscape (impossibility of fit of literary form to contemporary life/landscape)

1989: The Word Made Flesh (graphically scored text about materiality to flatten planes of reference and discourse together)

1989: Sample Dialogue with Emily McVarish (typographic inflection in dialogue)

1993: Deterring Discourse (impossibility of language’s being able to speak the real)

1996: The Current Line (as in, political line, and also, news/reporting)

1997: Prove Before Laying (emergence of figure of language from potential of alphabet/font constraint)

2010: Wittgenstein’s Gallery (actually produced in 1989; editioned in 2010)

2010-12: Stochastic Poetics (figure of poetics emerging within the field of noise culture)

2014: Diagrammatic Writing (semantics of format)


Feminist works about the narrative conventions of women’s lives:

1989-90: History of the/my Wor(l)d (official history reworked and orthodox feminist theory challenged)

1990: Simulant Portrait (ghost written autobiography of a simulant based on genre fiction)

1994: Narratology (the stories according to which we constructed our lives as real/lived)

2002: A Girl’s Life, with Susan Bee (engagement with the “pink” magazines)

2003: Damaged Spring, Druckwerk

2006: Testament of Women (rethinking moral lessons of old testament tales)

2015: Fabulas Feminae, with Susan Bee, profiles of renowned women


Works of compression in figurative/associative prose:

1972: Dark: The Bat Elf (sui generis erotic juvenilia, but filled with figurative language)

1975: As No Storm (figurative, dense prose)

1977: Surprize Party (figurative prose)

1979: Kidz (punk-ish poem piece)

1980: Jane Goes Out with the Scouts (suggestive poetics)

1980: ‘S Crap ‘S Ample (poem portrait)

1993: Otherspace with Brad Freeman (about emergent sentience/perception of “other” worlds)

1994: Three Early Fictions, Potes and Poets Press

1995: Dark Decade

1999: Nova Reperta with Brad Freeman (modernity, vision, and contemporary world)

2000: Emerging Sentience, with Brad Freeman

2000: Night Crawlers on the Web

2007: From Now

2009: ComboMeals


1977: Fragile (selected poems, writings, from 1970-73)

1978: Netherland: How (so) Far (account, poetic line)

1980: Italy (an account, telegraphic)

2000: Quantum

2006: CUBA (account, telegraphic)

Poets and Critics 2016 (2): Johanna Drucker Symposium Thursday 2 & Friday 3 June

On Thursday 2 and Friday 3 June, we will be hosting a 2 day symposium on Johanna Drucker’s work in Paris.
Université Paris 7 Denis Diderot, Bâtiment Olympe de Gouges
9:45am-5pm, room 830 (8th floor of the Olympe de Gouges Building).
Howimage doigt petit to get there?
For detailed instructions and directions, click HERE.

+ Poetry reading with Johanna Drucker and Cia Rinne, Thursday 2 June, 7:30pm, Atelier Michael Woolworth, Place de la Bastille, 2, rue de la Roquette, Cour Février, 75011 Paris For detailed directions, click HERE.

So far, we’ve tried to focus on the writer’s own (creative and critical) work on the first day of the P&C symposia and on broader issues of poetics and practice-based criticism with the writer on the second day. But there’s no specific preconceived program for the 2 days of the symposium: as the previous sessions of the program have shown, it seems important to let the conversation take its own course.

Please note that the morning session of the first day is devoted to preparing the conversation with Johanna Drucker which will take place during the afternoon session and the second day. Johanna Drucker will be joining the group at 2pm on Thursday 2 June.

Among Johanna Drucker’s many publications, we would like to look at the following titles: Stochastic PoeticsDiagrammatic Writing, both available on this website, The Visible Word: Experimental Typography and Modern Art (The University of Chicago Press, 1994), SpecLab: Digital Aesthetics and Speculative Computing (The University of Chicago Press, 2009) and Graphesis: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production (Harvard University Press, 2014). As well as her many artists’ books also made available on this website. We welcome other reading suggestions.

Also of great interest:

Theorizing Modernism: Visual Art and the Critical Tradition, Columbia University Press, 1994. (ISBN 978-0231080835)
The Alphabetic Labyrinth: The Letters in History and Imagination, Thames and Hudson, 1995. (ISBN 978-0500016084)
The Century of Artists’ Books, Granary Books, 1995. (ISBN 978-1887123693)
Figuring the Word: Essays on Books, Writing, and Visual Poetics, Granary Books, 1998. (ISBN 978-1887123235)
Sweet Dreams: Contemporary Art and Complicity, University Of Chicago Press, 2005. (ISBN 978-0226165059)
Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide, with Emily McVarish, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2008 (ISBN 978-0132410755)
Digital_Humanities, with Anne Burdick, Peter Lunenfeld, Todd Presner, and Jeffrey Schnapp, MIT Press, 2012. (ISBN 978-0262018470)


Thursday 2 June 
9:45am-12 > premilinary session with all participants
12-2pm > lunch
2pm > Johanna Drucker will be joining us for the afternoon session
7:30pm > Poetry reading with Johanna Drucker

Friday 3 June
9:45am-12 > morning session with Johanna Drucker
12-2pm > lunch
2pm-5pm > afternoon session with Johanna Drucker
8pm > symposium dinner

From Johanna Drucker’s website : http://www.johannadrucker.net/

Johanna Drucker is the inaugural Breslauer Professor of Bibliographical Studies in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA. She is internationally known for her work in the history of graphic design, typography, experimental poetry, fine art, and digital humanities. In addition, she has a reputation as a book artist, and her limited edition works are in special collections and libraries worldwide. Her most recent titles include SpecLab: Digital Aesthetics and Speculative Computing(Chicago, 2009), and Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide (Pearson, 2008, 2nd edition late 2012). She is currently working on a database memoire, ALL, the online Museum of Writing in collaboration with University College London and King’s College, and a letterpress project titled Stochastic Poetics. A collaboratively written work,Digital_Humanities, with Jeffrey Schnapp, Todd Presner, Peter Lunenfeld, and Anne Burdick is forthcoming from MIT Press.

A full bibliography can be found at http://www.johannadrucker.net/articles.html

“Un-Visual and Conceptual”:

Pennsound page: with interviews, talks, readings
EPC page:
Johanna Drucker on Granary Books:

Johanna Drucker’s Damaged spring: Pink Noire (2003)

From http://www.artistsbooksonline.org/works/dspr.xml
Project Statement: The exhibition “Love and Terror,” announced for Fall 2003 in Arizona, helped provoke the production of this work. But the texts were already being written, and the sensibility with respect to the look of the book, my longstanding desire to make a distinctly neo-expressionist response to current events, had long been developing the vision that manifest fully in this work. Only the raw, edgy, harsh high-contrast of cuts, in this case, linoleum, long a favorite medium of mine, seemed sufficient to express the cruelty of fate and injustice being wrought by the current administration. Trying to figure out what was going on in the world was so difficult. All the lies and rhetorical obfuscation of media reports coupled with the anecdotal evidence of daily lives of real people, friends, family. And then the weather, with its own cruelties, seemed to damage every new bit of spring growth in one round after another of bitter winter. No way to know what happens, except by transforming all of that into form, into expression. And the shrill, almost hysterial pink-ness of the cover papers, torn and pasted, were the other gesture meant to register anger in the aesthetic of production. People have read this as a story of personal anger, sadness, and difficulty, but it was not explicitly so. Rather, a composite of all I saw around me, felt, and processed. The events in my private life seemed like another symptom, not the cause, of the mood of this book.

Johanna Drucker’s Collaboration with Susan Bee: A Girl’s Life (New York: Granary, 2002)

From http://www.artistsbooksonline.org/works/grls.xml
Susan Bee and I had long talked about doing a collaborative work. We share many interests and sensibilities. We had experimented with a dialogue/exchange in the mid-1990s, when I was in New Haven. I printed something on the press and then sent her the sheets and she was going to respond and then return the sheets. This never panned out. I forget if we went beyond one round of exchange or not, thinking that we should do the project when we could be in the same place at the same time. A Girl’s Life sprang into being when Steve Clay offered to publish a collaboration between us. The inspiration for the book was what I call the “pink magazines” — those publications for tweens that produce a discourse of girl culture. I wrote a long narrative based on Ivanhoe (!) since that was very much in mind at the time. Then we tweaked it into a shorter and ever shorter text (Susan helped) until we had just what remains. She did the collages independently, and then we worked on sequencing and design in several visits she paid to Virginia. The work is truly collaborative and the hybrid sensibility produced exactly the look of lost innocence we were after for the project.

Fabulas Feminae (2015) with Susan Bee

can be purchased from Litmus Press

Johanna Drucker’s Deterring Discourse (1993)

From http://www.artistsbooksonline.org/works/detd.xml
Project Statement: This book was a direct response to the conditions we were experiencing in the early 1990s. The sense that public discourse had taken a sharp, Orwellian turn away from any relation to a referent in the real, and that a newSpeak sensibility was proliferating was accompanied by an anxious sense of repression. Self-censorship and overt attacks on real public dialogue were increasingly prevalent. Where a balanced discussion on a news program had once reflected a broad range of political beliefs, conversations were increasingly between extreme and middle-of-the road conservatives. The feeling that poetry, creative language, political essays, direct writing, and other forms of alternative cultural expression were essential to keeping open a window or space in the rapidly closing, locking-down realm of language was urgent and compelling. It still is, more than a decade later, writing this commentary in 2006.