In this bold and exhilarating mix of memoir and writing guide, Melissa Febos tackles the emotional, psychological, and physical work of writing intimately while offering an utterly fresh examination of the storyteller’s life and the challenges it presents. How do we write about the relationships that have formed us? How do we describe our bodies, their desires and traumas? What does it mean to have your writing, or living, dismissed as “navel-gazing”—or else hailed as “so brave, so raw”? And to whom, in the end, do our most intimate stories belong? Drawing on her journey from aspiring writer to acclaimed author and writing professor—via addiction and recovery, sex work and academia—Melissa Febos has created a captivating guide to the writing life, and a brilliantly unusual exploration of subjectivity, privacy, and the power of divulgence. Candid and inspiring, Body Work will empower readers and writers alike, offering ideas—and occasional notes of caution—to anyone who has ever hoped to see their true self reflecting back from the open page.
Beginning with the author’s experience as a creative writing teacher on an MFA programme, this chapter makes the case for ‘navel gazing’: unafraid, unapologetic first-person writing about the body, sex, gender, violence, joy, and trauma. Febos explores her path to writing memoir, the bias against personal writing, and the politicization of trauma.
Febos explores the pervasiveness of prescribed and internalized narratives about the body and sex. This chapter examines the challenges of writing and teaching sex scenes, and offers some guiding principles for writing better sex: you can use any words you want; sex doesn’t have to be good; sex is what you call it; writing about sex doesn’t have to include sex at all.
Febos traces her interest in confession back to her childhood and explores her early reading experiences. This chapter explores the relationship between craft and instinct, the process of writing memoir, and the change of heart required to move from experience to the page.
As first published in 1579, Spenser’s verbal-visual Shepheardes Calender is a most extraordinary early modern book, and its particular characteristics have major interpretive importance. This present volume freshly reassesses that first edition as a material text in relation to previous book history, and provides the first clearly detailed facsimile reproduction of it available as a book. Almost all previous surrogates for the 1579 Calender, whether disseminated as printed books, in microfilm, or online, as well as the reproductions of its twelve woodcuts typically included in modern editions, lack sufficient clarity to represent the original book reliably. This problem has especially impaired understanding of the Calender’s pictures, each of which was designed to complement one of Spenser’s twelve eclogues. In this way and others, such as the inclusion of a full commentary on the poetry, the 1579 Calender’s total design as a book radically rethought the bibliographical possibilities for presenting imaginative fiction and new poetry. This volume illuminates its antecedents, development, and production, the profound interconnections of its illustrations and poetry, its redefinition of pastoral, its bold redefinition of the proper role of poets and insistence on the national significance of poetic achievement, its daring political satire, and its creative singularity. For many years to come, An Analyzed Facsimile will be essential for study of Spenser’s Calender, this poet, and his importance for English literary history.
Recontextualizing Spenser’s 1579 Shepheardes Calender according to book history, the author analyzes its characteristics as a material text. The circumstances of its publication and of the stationer involved, Hugh Singleton, indicate that it was probably subsidized by the Earl of Leicester. The book’s complex design was deeply innovative, and the poet himself appears to have conceived its most unusual features, including its incorporation of a newly devised illustrative program and a commentary, both atypical for a first edition of imaginative fiction or poetry. His Calender samples and reinterprets diverse literary and nonliterary forms and discourses, ranging from humanist eclogues and emblem books to various calendars and popular almanacs, as well as their norms of print. The bibliographical format, paper, typography, and decoration, and the choice, arrangement, and sequence of the various textual parts recall English and continental precedents for printing eclogues and other kinds of books, as well as commentaries, and yet the book introduces various important changes. The twelve original woodcuts were probably devised according to Spenser’s own designs, and the author reveals elaborate symbolism in several selected pictures to show that the 1579 Calender’s illustrations profoundly interact with its poetry. Shedding much new light on its genesis and contents, including its poetics, politics, and satire of the queen’s prospective marriage to the duc d’Anjou, this comprehensive inquiry into the Calender’s first materialization as a book provides invaluable means to advance knowledge of Spenser’s first major poem, his poetic development, and his early reception.
In this chapter anti-computing is introduced, being explored from two connected directions. First it is defined as a series of dissenting responses to computerization, and its social or cultural impacts which have arisen since the 1950s are identified. What these share is that that they refuse the powerful and teleologically inspired myth that computational progress automatically constitutes progress in general, or in common. Dissent takes heterogeneous forms, operates in different registers, and rarely fully succeeds, since digitalization continues to expand its reach globally and at expanding scales – but it persists and rearises, older arguments finding new salience in relation to developing events. Responding to this anti-computing is elaborated as a critical theoretical approach drawing on media archaeology, media theory, and media history, constituting a means through which computational dissent, found ‘on the ground’ or ‘in theory’ can be explored. In the final third of the chapter this approach begins to be operationalized; a series of provisional taxonomies of anti-computing being generated and briefly explored.