Instructor: Ârash Aminian Tabrizi
“Who are you?” Here is the question that one—you, she, they, or I—is asked every day, everywhere. Be it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or on dating and hook-up apps such as Tinder, Grindr, Hinge, and Her, be it in university applications and job interviews, in artistic practices and journalistic productions, or else when it comes to political activism and the moral values attached to it, one indeed has to introduce themselves, to say and show who (or perhaps what) they are as legibly and recognisably as possible. However, these expressions of the self often fall short of conveying, through their formatted forms, the complexity of what (or who) is being expressed, to the point of becoming mere cliché. Such commonplace narratives and images one shares with the world in turn shape one’s self and one’s relationships with others and the world that thereby become experientially poorer. This formatting, which some learn and excel at, remains for many unconscious, anchored as they are in the belief that they communicate the truth of their selves. This class, instead of studying the “self” as a stable and easily definable entity, will look at cultural productions in which a form is given to express its inherent multifacetedness, its fundamental scattering in time, space, life, death, sensation, sex, language, history, nature, etc. To do so, besides some theoretical texts (Agamben, Améry, Wendy Brown, Freud, Lyotard, Marie Moran, Gayle Rubin), we will examine the ways in which the shattering of the self comes to be formed and rendered, often experimentally, in short stories (Blanchot, Lispector), several novellas and novels (Beckett, Büchner, Carson, Cixous, Guibert, Rawicz, Sartre, Juliana Spahr), a screenplay (Duras), an autobiographical account (Wojnarowicz), poetry collections and poems (Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Toi Derricotte, Eve Ewing, Rob Halpern, Canisia Lubrin, Diana Khoi Nguyen, Percy B. Shelley), an interactive graphic novel (Marietta Ren), a few speculative essays (Derrida, Haraway, Saidiya Hartman, Lacoue-Labarthe, Nancy), and a couple of albums (Björk, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds). Students will have the chance to produce a creative project of their own that could be autobiographical or not, fictional or not, and that could resort to any modes and mediums of expression they see fit.