Kay Rozynski this year obtained a PhD from the Writing and Society Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney. Her research/writing pursuits take in conceptual, fictocritical, performative and site-responsive writing, and aspects of the environmental humanities. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, and works teaching Creative Writing and Hispanic Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne. She is on the editorial board of New Scholar: an International Journal of Humanities, Creative Arts and Social Sciences and is founding editor of Sippy Cup: A Journal of Other Writing.

Assembling Bodies

A new materialist approach to writing practice

How might some recent philosophical critiques grouped under the rubric of a ‘new materialism’ be brought to bear productively on creative writing practice and pedagogy? This article argues that the new materialism’s particular – and particularly intensified – awareness of the materiality of the writing process and of its textual products can be useful for writers. I consider how the environment in which one creates might look within a new materialist view, outlining what I propose to be one of its central features: the clinamen. I describe how feminist physicist Karen Barad’s concept of intra-activity can be used to view the writing environment as a posthuman assemblage of intra-acting relata, before proposing the figure of the clinamen as able to describe the movement of matter within this assemblage. My argument, ultimately, is that this movement is conducive to the production of novelty in both writing experience and product: it is through the unpredictability of the clinamen’s movement that new textual directions can be brought about. I make reference to my own creative process on this score – taking as examples a collaborative writing workshop I led and an exhibited work of conceptual writing – in order to demonstrate some ways in which new materialisms can prove useful for the proliferation of writing.