Despite the wide impact of transdisciplinary scholarship that has theorized the interconnectedness of literature and science not least within the pages of this journal, this article argues that the Canadian poet Christian Bök's Xenotext Experiment (and conceptual writing in general) reproduces historical epistemologies (including positivism and relativism) that rely on the presumption of disciplinary autonomy. In the sciences, these epistemologies are connected to sociocultural and economic power, extreme resistance to criticality, and the production of normative subject and object positions (including what I term the subject-of-no-subjectivity on the one hand, and the determinist object of scientific positivism on the other). The article explores the implications, problems, and affordances of reproducing historical epistemologies in conceptual writing. The key argument is that the reproduction of historical epistemologies in the disciplinary context of literature yields avant-garde credentials, marginalizing often content-led experimental works that might take as their theme experience and subjective difference (race, class, gender, sexuality, able-bodiedness). This way, contemporary conceptual writing perpetuates the normativity and exclusiveness it inherited from historical avant-garde literature.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 27-46
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.