Born into Language: Creative Writing, Philosophy, Sound Art, and Psychoanalysis

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Fall 2017 quarter

Taught by

aesthetics and philosophy, critical theory, psychoanalysis
creative writing, philosophy, critical theory

How does language precede us? How does it shape our being in the world, the emergence of a self, the connections and disconnections between us? In this introductory program, we will move between a variety of theoretical traditions and art practices (particularly in experimental writing, sound art, philosophy and psychoanalysis) to think about language as it stands in relation to sound and image, thinking and memory, power and the individual. Our reading, writing, and thinking will be experimental, as we look to playfully access our own language and the discourses and disciplines that surround it. How do these “inputs” shape our creative and intellectual “outputs”?

Over the quarter, we will closely read psychoanalytic texts and short stories as well as texts in critical, literary and sound theory, with regular seminars, small groups, lectures, and reading sessions. (Our authors will likely include Freud, Kristeva, Lacan, Žižek, Fanon, Michel Chion, Gertrude Stein, Roland Barthes, Sianne Ngai, Fred Moten, Herman Melville and Edgar Allen Poe.) Writing will be a central focus, as we alternate between poetic experimentation and playful academic essays. We will “write” with found language and sound collage, working within constraints in an attempt to disrupt language’s smooth functioning.

In addition to regular short essays and writing experiments, students will develop a final collection of written work and an experimental electronic soundscape. The program will provide introductory technical instruction in graphic design, Adobe InDesign, and small press publishing, as well as parallel sound technology training (recording, editing software like Adobe Audition, and formal approaches to sound and soundscapes). There will be likely be day trips to Seattle or Portland to investigate contemporary art. At the end of the quarter, we will collectively organize a sound art audition party and reading series.

Note: this program repeats winter quarter. Students who take the program in fall should not take the winter quarter repeat.

Program Details

Fields of Study

language studies philosophy writing

Preparatory For

language studies, philosophy and writing.


Fall Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First class meeting: Monday, September 25 at 1pm (Lecture Hall 03)

Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online


$60 for entrance fees.


2017-05-22Fees reduced (from $200 to $60).