Devouring Institutions: The Life Work of Kathy Acker
Edited by Michael Hardin
ISBN: 1879691701 | 2005 | 272pp paperback*
illustrated: 2bw photos/map*
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FROM THE INTRODUCTION BY MICHAEL HARDIN...
In April 1996, I organized a conference at which Kathy Acker was the keynote speaker,1 but could not imagine how to introduce such a complex writer and artist, and so I delegated that responsibility; now, however, I do not have such a luxury. I had met Kathy before, but it was while she was at this conference that she received the news that her biopsy had come back positive for breast cancer. Thus, when I heard on Monday, December 1, 1997 that she had died the day before, I felt a great loss. I was shocked-I knew she was a fighter and if anyone could beat cancer, she could-but at the same time, I had not heard from her since August. A few days later, I was informed of the news by the executor of her estate, so I asked how Kathy would have wanted to be remembered, thinking a memorial event in Houston might be nice, but he said, "keep her work alive." That was the germination for this collection, and I can happily state that since then, most of her work has come back into print, Grove released two new collections in fall 2002-The Essential Acker: The Selected Writings of Kathy Acker and Rip-off Red, Girl Detective and The Burning Bombing of America-and NYU sponsored a conference on Kathy Acker in November, 2002. However, there remains a dearth of critical articles and books on her work, and her fiction is not taught as often as one might expect, given its relevance to contemporary literature and theory. To that end, Devouring Institutions is meant to be an introduction to Kathy Acker, with its essays being merely thirteen ways of looking at one of the most innovative, controversial, and difficult of American writers...
Selected praise for Devouring Institutions:
It is essential--particularly in these beige days through which the narratologically bland lead the narratologically bland--to explore and celebrate the brilliantly mad fictive possibility spaces Kathy Acker left behind. The essays in Devouring Institutions accomplish just that: together, they form a rich, important, multifaceted act of reminding about one of the most significant innovative writers of the last century.
Devouring Institutions is a welcome contribution to the study of Kathy Acker's oeuvre and influence. Hers was a subversive intellect that made an indelible mark on American literature of the 20th century.
editor of Bodies of Work, Rip-Off Red, Girl Detective, and Essential Acker
Devouring Institutions: The Life Work of Kathy Acker is, to my knowledge, the first book-length manuscript that examines thoroughly, profoundly, and scholarly the Work of Kathy Acker. It will go a long way in introducing one of the most provocative, original, intellectual, and profound American writers of the late 20th century to the American reading public and the Academy. It will shatter the simplistic representation of Kathy Acker as a writer who simply wants to use profanity and pornography to shock the reader. Signifying the Western outlaw tradition of Marquis de Sade, Georges Bataille, Henry Miller, and William S. Burroughs; appropriating, plagiarizing, and rewriting the Western, canonical texts and art of Cervantes, Dickens, Faulkner, Hawthorne, Genet, Twain, Artaud, Rimbaud, Freud, and others; engaging, reverberating against, and conversing with the poststructuralist and postmodernist theories of Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, Cixous, and Irigaray; and exposing the violence and repression of the patriarchy and of capitalism in the late 20th century; Kathy Acker produces a body of literature that textualizes, undermines, and critiques the major social, political, sexual, and economic issues/forces confronting Western humanity as it enters the 21th century. Many of the essays in Devouring Institutions unearth and make available to the reader the artistry, the complex vision, the humanity, the beauty, and the political convictions of Kathy Acker and her Work. I think Devouring Institutions will not only establish Kathy Acker and her Work as a site of critical domain, but also will make an invaluable contribution to American scholarship.
-Professor W. Lawrence Hogue
The University of Houston
A welcome and necessary addition to the Acker canon.Table of Contents
the Literary Encyclopedia
Kathy Acker: An Introduction
Writing between Madness and Paralysis
"The Madness Outside Gender: Travels with Don Quixote and Saint Foucault."
Washington State University-Vancouver
"Kathy Acker and Literary Madness: Erecting a Pornographic Shell."
"The Paralyzing Tensions of Radical Art in a Postmodern World: Kathy Acker's Last Novels as Exploratory Fictions."
Arts Advocacy Project, National Coalition Against Censorship
Building the Body of Desires
"Re-Educating the Body: Kathy Acker, Georges Bataille, and the Postmodern Body in My Mother: Demonology."
Idaho State University
"Too Much Is Never Enough: A Kaleidoscopic Approach to the Work of Kathy Acker."
Long Beach State University
"The Lay of the Land: Piracy and the Iterant Body in Kathy Acker's Pussy, King of the Pirates."
"Between Theory and Autobiography: Negotiating Desire, Sex, and Love in the Work of Kathy Acker."
"Residues or Revolutions of the Language of Acker and Artaud."
Wayne State University
"Words Hurt! Acker's Appropriation of Myth in Don Quixote."
Delaware Valley College
"Kathy Acker's Radical Performance Writing in Eurydice in the Underworld and Other Texts."
University of Alberta
"Beyond Appropriation: Pussy, King of the Pirates and a Feminist Critique of Intellectual Property."
"Voice, Politics, Copyright."
"Scavenging the E-Wreck: Kathy Acker, the Internet, and Artis Electronica."
Idaho State University.
A Primary and Secondary Bibliography