Classes With the Gasses

This July, FC2 (publisher of the fabulous What Begins With Bird) and Portland State University will present the second annual Writer’s Edge: Innovative Writing Conference. Among the offerings:

FICTION AS ARCHITECTURE
Lance Olsen

Usually the metaphor of architecture is applied to writing, if it is applied to it at all, in order to italicize the “craft” employed in its creation. Occasionally one might find mention of the use of architecture in fiction–the metalogical libraries, for instance, described in Jorge Luis Borges’s stories. But what I’m interested in exploring in this workshop is the following question: how it is both illuminating and stimulating to conceptualize fiction’s structures and discourses as spaces one lives in and moves through as one might, for instance, a Bauhaus building, a tenement, an emergency room, a funhouse, a cathedral?  We shall look at how author William Gass and his architect-spouse Mary collaborate to find harmonies between sentences by Hemingway and houses by Frank Lloyd Wright, on the one hand, and those by Henry James and baroque palaces, on the other.  We shall think about Milorad Pavic’s distinction between nonreversible art (like music and conventional narrative, which can and must only fall forward) and reversible art (like architecture, some innovative prose, and hypertext, which can and must be entered through various portals at various times to various effects).  We shall ponder what new-media author and theorist Michael Joyce means by saying that every innovative text is a liquid city.  And then we shall try to imagine, via several writing exercises, new architectures for our own fiction.