Robert Mapplethorpe’s portrait of Kathy Acker

‘I was unspeakable so I ran into the language of others.’ Kathy Acker, Bodies of Work, 1997

For our seventh session we are reading Literal Madness: Three Novels by Kathy Acker, which concludes this year-long project. Published in 1989 this collection gathers three of Acker’s short stories: My Life, My Death by Pier Passolini, 1984, Kathy Goes to Haiti, 1978 and Florida, 1978.

Kathy Acker was an American novelist, poet and feminist writer. Pronouncing a literary mode that exists only in its relation to other texts, her writing is a radically celebrated collage of plagiarised material. A loot, a pillager; Acker’s practice of textual appropriation negates the original authorial voice and assembles a composite voice of a critically amassed ‘many’ which points to her own subjectivity and political position. Acker died of cancer on 30 November, 1997. Her work remains an important precursor to many of the authors included in this reading series, her voice in turn running into the language of contemporary writers.

Sick, Sick, Sick contrasts the work of new female writers emerging from the online Alt-Lit scene with the late nineties’ Semiotext(e) ‘Native Agents’ publications under the editorial directorship of Chris Kraus. We seek to explore the tensions between language, sociology, subjectivity and power-relations, their impact upon gender and the ways in which they take form in the text.

Contact readers@mapmagazine.co.uk for further information.

Initiated by Emma Balkind and Laura Edbrook in association with MAP. With thanks to The MIT Press, Feminist Press, Penny-Ante Editions and CCA, Glasgow for their support.