Part Two: Learning Outcomes

Last week, I submitted my second assignment, a 1,500-word close reading analysis of the first few paragraphs in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. Before moving onto Part Three, I wanted to reflect on my work and learning these last few months against the course learning outcomes.

  1. Can I demonstrate an awareness of a broad range of contemporary practice in the creative arts?
    • Applied to creative reading (which I now understand as a more or less ‘made-up’ category including the practice of any genre of creative writing, the integration of or creation of text within a contemporary art practice, and/or reader response to (any) text), I can definitely speak to a broad range of art practices that integrate text, writing and creative reading.
    • Compared to Part One, this section had me reaching out of my comfort zone infrequently. There are a few reasons for this, I think:
      • 1) Because many of the assignments had me working with more or less mainstream writers (Dylan Thomas; Cormack McCarthy), in addition to affording me the flexibility to choose the (already familiar) texts I would apply new skills and learnings to, which I enjoyed very much because it also prompted me to actively appreciate and think about what appeals to me about one ‘reading’ experience versus another.
      • 2) Because I didn’t force an interest in things that didn’t appeal to me. I wasn’t much interested in the new media writing Hazel Smith wrote about, and, similarly, the works described in the chapter “Room 7: Itinerance” (Place) about the artistic representation of subtle journeys, fell flat for me.
      • 3) Because, having studied and taught literature, I’m familiar with reading, writing, reader-response theory, at a basic level, a range of literary theories (including Derrida’s notion that “there is nothing outside of the text”).
    •  I do a lot of reading and listening to texts of all kinds, including poetry. While I can name a lot of contemporary writers, I can’t at this point name too many contemporary artists whose practice incorporates writing, text generation or reading in out-of-the-ordinary ways.
  2. Can I demonstrate an understanding of the scope and interrelationship of a range of creative disciplines?
    • I think this section of the course did a great job of situating text and the reader’s relationship to text within a larger historical framework, drawing connections between language as an arbitrary system of signs, philosophers of the distant past and contemporary ways of creating, reading and understanding text. This was simultaneously an interesting way of integrating the overarching theme of “time” into this section of the course.
    • Even if I don’t plan on pursuing Hazel Smith’s text generation projects or personally feel moved by the incremental displacement of a sand dune or the concoction of pickles on a boat journey, I do think it’s important to be aware of these works as borrowing from, and themselves informing, the vast contemporary art landscape. We see how Aristotle’s theory of good play-writing has informed the practice of (literal and fictional) narration; we see how philosophy informs our relationship to language and understanding; we see how artists (and the institutions that bring their work to the forefront) blend it all together. More recently, according to Hazel Smith, we can even see how technology is being explored as an alternative ‘solution’ to the more mysterious or romantic inspiration.
  3. Can I demonstrate a knowledge of basic research tools, skills and an awareness of the theoretical background to the creative arts?
    • I feel confident that I have demonstrated, particularly through the writing and exercises I do in my learning log/blog, my ability to conduct research and summarize my findings.
    • I do have a basic awareness of how different theories motivate and/or permeate many artistic movements, but “intertextuality” (the notion that every text is composed of previous texts, that nothing is truly original), especially at a time when identity politics, combined with the freedom of the individual “reader” of a “text” (which again, is anything that can arguably be “read”), make it increasingly difficult to extract one theory from another. If there is nothing outside of the text (itself a theory that discounts historical theory), then it’s more the job of the reader to draw out the trappings of different theories in our interpretation of art and/or text.
  4. Can I demonstrate an ability to think critically and reflect upon my own learning?
    • Yes! I take care to do both of these things following each reading by thinking about how it applies to my own work. And, of course, the time I take to apply each course section to the different learning outcomes demonstrates my willingness to reflect on my learning.

Follow-up reading/listening (list continued from Part One conclusion):

  • Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford) – currently listening via Audible.com
  • Stallabrass’ “Contemporary Art: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford), available via Audible.com
  • Callender and Edney’s “Introducing Time” (2004)
  • Newall and Pooke’s “Art History: The Basics” (2008)
  • Wilson and Lack’s “The Tate Guide to Modern Art Terms”
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