Perfect Vacuums: Critical Studies of Nonexistent Texts (LIT4177.01)

Manuel Gonzales

In this class, using Stanislaw Lem’s 1971 book, A Perfect Vacuum: Perfect Reviews of Nonexistent Books as a jumping off point, we will discuss the influence and power of nonexistent texts in literature and pop-culture, and we will turn our critical eye to our own invented and imagined nonexistent texts, bounding across space, time, and genre as we do, with the goal of interrogating the point of an exercise employed by Margaret Atwood, A.S. Byatt, Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luis Borges, Roberto BolaƱo, Percival Everett, and Stanislaw Lem, among others. What can we say about texts that don’t exist except within the narrow boundaries of other fictional texts? What can we imagine and say about texts that have not been written yet? Nobody knows, not yet, anyway, but through this class, we might come closer to finding out.

Learning Outcomes:
*Explore the use and effect of imagined, partial, or entirely nonexistent texts in literature.
*Develop original imagined, partial, or entirely nonexistent texts, authors, and historical context surrounding these.
*Write critical about our own and each other's imagined, partial, or entirely nonexistent texts, authors, and the historical context surrounding these.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Interested students should submit either a critical or creative writing sample (5 pp.) via this form by November 17. Admitted students will be notified by email on November 22.
Corequisites: Students are required to attend all Literature Evenings, Bennington Translates, and Poetry at Bennington events this term, commonly held at 7pm on most Wednesday evenings.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
T/F 2:10PM - 4:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: 4000 , All courses , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Literature
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