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In his review of French writer Herve Guibert’s collected journals, The Mausoleum of Lovers, Wayne Koestenbaum writes: “I hope that Guibert’s journal will bring this philosophically inclined subset of body-smeared literature back into prominence. What else is there to write but the body?” This class is shaped by that same hope, and will inquire into that “philosophically inclined subset of body-smeared writing.” To do so, we will look at examples of writing that engages problems of embodiment, temporality, mortality, pleasure, and pain while also producing our own texts and discussing them.
Nelson is the author of five books of nonfiction and four books of poetry. Her 2011 book of art and cultural criticism, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning, named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and Editors’ Choice. Her other nonfiction books include The Argonauts and the cult hit Bluets. Her poetry has been widely anthologized. Her books of poetry include Jane: A Murder, a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of Memoir, and Shiner, a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award.