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'When writers start thinking about their relationship to things, ideas grow. When we put the call out for papers for this theme, we were so overwhelmed by the response that it became two special issues rather than one – the ideas, and enthusiasm, had grown beyond the bounds of an individual issue.' (Introduction)
* Contents derived from the 2021 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
'Objects are not just ‘objects’ but are connected to people and memory. My paper asks: how can objects help authors write from diverse experiences? I answer this question through a diasporic lens. Objects of ritual have strong importance in Judaism and cultural objects are often passed down throughout the generations. I analyse examples from writers, theorists, and curators, including Mark Baker and his memoir Thirty Days (2017); object theorist Bill Brown; Mireille Juchau and her essay ‘The Most Holy Object in the House’; postmemory theorists Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer; curator Alla Sokolova; Marie Kondo and her use of the Japanese term ‘mono no aware’ (the pathos of things), and my own poetry collection Amnesia Findings (2019). Through this research, I arrive at a closer understanding of how objects can help writers respond to complex and hybrid experiences using memory-objects, and by writing through Things.' (Publication abstract)
'In the early 1950s UK-born US poet Denise Levertov transcribed a passage from The Selected Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke (1946) into her ‘Green Notebook’ a personal anthology of ‘brief essential texts’ (Levertov, 1973, p. 43). She labelled the passage ‘If a thing is to speak to you’. The excerpt was one of several from Rilke’s letters that would remain significant to Levertov across a near five-decade career. This article uses distributed mind theory to reflect on the role of the ‘thing’ in Rilkean-Levertovian poetics. Drawing primarily on Menary’s Cognitive Integration framework (2007a), it considers the role of two particular artefacts (things) – an idiosyncratic index created by Levertov to the Selected Letters and the aforementioned Green Notebook – in the development of Levertov’s cognitive character (Menary, 2012a). In so doing, it frames the Rilke-Levertov relationship as an example of enculturated cognition (Menary, 2015). In addition, it looks specifically at the role of Rilke’s Ding or thing poetics in this particular example of enculturation; that is, the influence of Rilke’s engagement with ‘things’ in the development of Levertov’s objectivist-inflected poetics of presence.' (Publication abstract)
'This article is an exploration of contemporary Turkish and Chinese-Indonesian literatures with regards to a mid to late 18th Century literary niche: the it-narrative. Thinking (noesis) back and forth between centuries and different literary genres makes (poiesis) the conversation possible, which addresses the socio-literary imagination of the last four centuries. The authors re- examine the genre of it-narrative outside 18th Century studies and reassess the encounter of Turkish author Orhan Pamuk and Chinese-Indonesian author Alberta Natasia Adji within the socio-cultural and historico-political context of modern Turkey and Indonesia. The question is how Pamuk’s use of prosopopoeia in his 1998 novel Benim Adım Kırmızı [My Name is Red] influences Adji’s decision to use the 18th Century it-narratives in her 2019 short story I am Her Bracelet.' (Publication abstract)
'Football (soccer) and its extended culture have been studied extensively. In contrast, the goal net, an essential part of the game’s equipment, has undergone very little scrutiny in academic research or creative non-fiction. The goal net consists of a nylon net drawn across a rectangular frame, often supported by angled stanchions. Positioned at parallel ends of a rectangular football pitch, they provide the target for opposing teams in the course of a match. During play, the goal net is regularly transformed from perfunctory piece of sporting equipment into artefact, imbued with narrative and aesthetic meaning. Creative non-fiction is a long-established critical approach and means of exploration of football, its play, its participants, traditions, and stories (see Wilson, 2013; Winner, 2012; Goldblatt, 2006; Bellos, 2002; and Hornby, 1992). The theory and concepts of object biography posit that objects must be examined as if they, like humans, have or have had a life story (Kopytoff, 1986; see also Brown, 2000; Gosden & Marshall, 1999). Creative non-fiction related to football rarely examines the life stories of those objects employed in the game. This paper employs textual and contextual analyses (See Belsey, 2011; McKee, 2003), theoretical frameworks offered by object biography, and a famous goal in the Népstadion, Hungary, from 1981, to examine the oft-neglected goal net’s dramatic influence on the visual narrative of a key element of football: a goal scored.' (Publication abstract)
'Throughout its history, travel writing has not been held in the same esteem as many other forms of non-fiction writing (Youngs, 2013; Stubbs, 2015) due to issues with representation, the creative techniques used, and the subjective perspective of the writer. Despite this critique, Baine Campbell has asserted that travel writing has a ‘plurality’ (2002), which allows it to resonate across a variety of disciplines. This paper observes how a recognition of the importance of objects as evocative and creative artefacts can provide a prompt for more engaged and authentic examples of travel writing, so as to better achieve recognition as a legitimate blend of creative writing, journalism, and history writing. The research will examine the influential travel writing works of Bruce Chatwin with In Patagonia (1977) and Christopher Kremmer’s The Carpet Wars (2002) to observe how these writers use objects for significant creative and cultural guides within their explorations. By looking closer at how objects can present new ways of looking at and writing about place, I will examine how an awareness of meaningful artefacts has influenced the creative and structural choices of my own travel writing practice to better achieve a plurality of appeal that moves it beyond its past criticisms.' (Publication abstract)
'This article is a fictocritical exploration of the Port-Yarta Puulti River which runs through Kaurna Country in South Australia. Since the establishment of a shipping port in 1837 the river and the land that surrounds it have been heavily industrialised. This use/misuse of land and water exemplifies the human capacity to become socially dependent on the objectification of non-human environments. Such objectification both informs and limits how we use language: we find ourselves calling a river by its ‘resource’ name (Port River) rather than its living name (Yarta Puulti River). The repetition of this framing (in colonial/settler historical archives, policy, road maps, media, planning documentation) makes it easy to forget that this is not a port; it was made into one. In turn, this limits the kind of narratives that consequently emerge from and about a place. This article is composed of a series of experiments that creatively and theoretically engage (via image prose, image, and poetry) with the following question: how might we unhinge the intentional/unintentional censorship of the stories we write and learn from Country?' (Publication abstract)
'This article reflects on the way objects can become part of the creative writing process in unfamiliar cultural contexts. I draw from my example of writing haiku in response to everyday objects found in Barcelona public space, but more than an analysis of form this article aims to address ways in which the thing-power of objects can train a poet to see more clearly in unfamiliar environments. Drawing from the research of political theorist Jane Bennett (2010) and her investigation of thing-power, as well as poets such as Francis Ponge and Elizabeth Bishop, the paper pushes past viewing objects simply as tools for human subjects and questions what happens when one explores the thingliness of objects themselves. By paying attention to local spaces through the prism of objects moving within those spaces, the paper explores ways in which creative practice can reflect on unfamiliar cultural contexts. Through my research I tested in what ways critical reflection through objects might encourage the writer to see things as they are rather than as they appear, question the influence of past experience, and enhance a receptivity to unfamiliar things.' (Publication abstract)
'Evocative objects, suggests Sherry Turkle (2007), demonstrate the inseparability of thought and emotion in our relationships to certain objects. This is even more the case with objects that have become things, untethered from and exceeding their everyday use. There is a comforting solidity about things that offers a contrast to the shifting consciousness of the writer. But then things, too, begin to morph and shift: childhood objects opening an infinity of stories, the cracked teacup conjuring another time and place, people now dead. Life writing from and through things both dramatises and contests dualities such as self and other, order and chaos, exposure and concealment. This essay follows things and draws on thing theory and contemporary material culture studies to explore the way evocative objects become contradictory partners in life writing.' (Publication abstract)
'David Malouf (1985) describes the objects children first encounter as symbols of the unknown – we are ‘set loose in a world of things’, and our only tool to exert power over these objects is the body, as we ‘try to swallow them, then to smash them to smithereens… If they refuse to yield their history to us they may at least, in time, become agents in ours’ (p. 9); especially once we are able to wield linguistic instruments. But objects go beyond becoming mere ‘agents’ in the narratives of our lives. As rendered things – selected, curated, labelled and preserved in our minds and the pages of books, these objects undergo a horror just as brutal as Malouf’s metaphors of consumption and demolition. Objects become us, just as we become objects. This holds true in both life and death – perhaps even more apparently in death, when our objects must be subjectively ‘inventorized’ (Baudrillard), collected or discarded by those who grieve. Can writing salvage the past? Or does the very act of writing things ensnare us in a melancholy gaze? This fictocritical work explores these questions through theoretical and performative discourses, ultimately asking: Through writing, are we smashing ourselves to smithereens?' (Publication abstract)