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

Winter 2018 quarter

Taught by

Note: this is a repeat of a program in fall quarter. Students who took the program in fall should not take the winter quarter repeat.

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). At the end of the quarter, we will collectively organize a sound art audition party and reading series.

Program Details

Fields of Study

language studies philosophy writing

Preparatory For

language studies, philosophy and writing.


Winter Open

Location and Schedule

Final Schedule and Room Assignment

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online


2017-11-15Fee cancelled.
2017-05-22Fees reduced (from $200 to $60).