Genres Against Markets: A Workshop for Creativity, Theory and Criticism
Dates: July 11-15, 2022
EXTENDED: Applications due
April 1, 2022 April 15, 2022
A five-day gathering of writers and critics exploring the radical uses of popular and commercial writing form for the critique of capitalism in a moment of profound crisis.
Location: Berlin, Germany
NOTE: Pandemic, war or another horseman of the apocalypse may ruin/change our plans.
Working Language: English
Support from: RiVAL: The ReImagining Value Action Lab, Free University of Berlin, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
Contact: Leigh Claire La Berge (lclaberge [at] gmail.com)
Apply by clicking here: https://forms.gle/YhCGMZZFwmtuHZHM6 or use the embedded form below.
Please note that this project remains in development – check back regularly for more information
This week-long workshop will bring together both critical and creative writers to support one another in the development of new written work across a wide range of “popular” genres, forms and approaches. “Genres Against the Market” aims to foster a temporary community to encourage radical writers to explore new methods for reaching unconventional audiences toward a critique of economic limitation and possibility. Leaving aside the familiar form of the conventional academic essay and monograph, we aim to host a gathering to explore how radical ideas that challenge reigning forms of social and economic power can be expressed and broadcast using “popular” formats of writing.
From screenplays to poetry, from creative non-fiction to genre fiction, from comedy to melodrama, from role-playing games to song lyrics, from TikTok critique to musicals, we encourage writers of all sorts to bring works in progress to this gathering in Berlin to receive and share constructive criticism within a context where we will also discuss the political economy and radical potentials of form. During the five days of the gathering we will share work and offer peer critique, hear from noted writers, editors and other cultural intermediaries, and discuss inspiring examples and theories.
We undertake this gathering in a moment when the capitalist culture industries, now calibrated towards the ever more subtle harnessing of creative labour, have opened unprecedented opportunities for expression thanks, in part, to the emergence of new digital platforms and communities for the expression and sharing of cultural work. Without losing sight of the way “popular” genres and forms, and their dominant modes of dissemination, are shaped by and for the reproduction of capital’s accumulation and ideology, we seek to find the common courage to appropriate, inhabit, and explore them in the hopes of turning them towards the prospect of a radically different economy and culture.
To these ends, we encourage applications from individuals or collectives who wish to bring any of the following:
- Creative work-in-progress broadly within the realm of “radical writing for popular audiences.” We interpret both “writing” and “popular” in extremely broad terms;
- Critical and academic work-in-progress that explores the radical and anti-capitalist potentials and limits of “popular writing,” either in the present moment or historically;
- Ideas of manifestations or editorial platforms to host and disseminate such work.
The five-day event will take place at the Free University in Berlin’s Dahlem neighborhood. It is expected that all participants will be present and participate between 10am and 6pm each day, with optional participation dinners, field trips and other activities outside of that. Participation includes:
- sharing work-in-progress and offering constructive feedback to others, in large group and small group sessions;
- theoretical seminars;
- writing workshops.
Participants must plan to share drafts of their written work by July 1, 2022 in order to ensure fellow participants have a chance to review it in anticipation of the meeting. Participants are also asked by that date to share an example of work they believe offers a popular economic critique.
We ask attendees to be available for an initial Zoom session which will include introductions, a short orientation and some preliminary workshopping details; likely in late May.
Beyond these core activities, the workshop will also include meetings and dialogues (via Zoom and in person) with German and global writers and editors of note and optional walking tours and cultural activities in the Berlin area.
Costs and logistics
With the support of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Free University of Berlin and RiVAL: The ReImagining Value Action Lab, basic accommodation (single private room, potentially shared bathroom) for all workshop participants will be provided, as well as two meals per day (breakfast and lunch) for the five days of the gathering. Participants should expect to cover the costs of travel to and from Berlin and within it, the remaining meals, accommodation outside of the dates specified, production and other creative expenses, and fees relevant to optional activities. We have created a small bursary fund to help participants defray these costs which can be accessed through the workshop application form (below). We anticipate being able to offer additional support to those without permanent positions.
Unfortunately, we are unable to assist with visas, or accommodating partners and family members. However, we will prioritize ensuring access to those with disability to the extent we are able to do so. In special cases we may be able to arrange alternate accommodation, etc., however in these cases participants should anticipate a reimbursement of out-of-pocket costs, with the attendant provisos about the glacial pace of university bureaucracies, etc.
- Applications due:
April 1April 15
- Responses to applications:
April 15April 30
- Preliminary zoom meeting: Late May
- Sharing of writing with workshop cohort: July 1
- Berlin workshop: July 11-15
- Follow-up online: TBA
For inquiries, please email Leigh Claire La Berge (lclaberge [at] gmail.com)
How many people will be participating?
We aim to gather between 10-15 people.
What can I expect during the five-day workshop?
There will be a combination of (a) small-group workshopping of written work, (b) whole group discussions and study groups focused on inspiring examples and illuminating theories, (c) sessions with guest speakers. These will run from approximately 10am-6pm on each of the five days of the gathering.
I am not a published author or an expert. Can I still participate?
Yes, please apply. Many participants are new to their chosen craft or area of inquiry.
Does the work I bring have to be in a “popular” genre?
Not necessarily. We are open to criticism, experimental writing and other less “popular” forms. However, our core interest is in how critical and radical writers can engage with (or against) forms and genres that have become popular and commercially successful.
Can I participate as a constructive critic, even if I don’t bring my own creative writing?
Yes. Please apply!
Will there be assholes at this workshop who will make me wish I had never come to it?
I’m working on something a bit… unconventional (queer interspecies spaceopera pornographic counterfactual comic book plus VR space about a kind of Paris Commune groundhog day scenario… it’s complex)… is this the right workshop for me?
Leigh Claire La Berge is a Humboldt Fellow and Faculty Affiliate at the John F. Kennedy Institute for American Studies at the Free University of Berlin. She is the author of numerous works of economically oriented criticism, including the books Scandals and Abstraction: Financial Fiction of the Long 1980s (Oxford: 2014) and Wages Against Artwork: Decommodified Labor and the Claims of Socially Engaged Art (Duke, 2019) as well as the co-editor of Reading Capitalist Realism (Iowa, 2014). La Berge is currently finishing a book about economic history, art and animality entitled Marx for Cats: A Radical Bestiary.
During the July workshop, she plans to share material from a new book tentatively entitled Occasional Marxism which includes essays on tennis, her Foucaultian family, and her years spent working as a corporate management consultant.
Max Haiven is a writer and teacher and Canada Research Chair in the Radical Imagination. His most recent books are Art after Money, Money after Art: Creative Strategies Against Financialization (2018) andRevenge Capitalism: The Ghosts of Empire, the Demons of Capital, and the Settling of Unpayable Debts (2020). His book Palm Oil: The Grease of Empire will appear in April 2022. Haiven is editor of VAGABONDS, a series of short, radical books from Pluto Press. He teaches at Lakehead University, where he co-directs the ReImagining Value Action Lab (RiVAL).
During the July workshop, he plans to further explore the rise in popularity of story-driven tabletop role-playing games and LARPs (live action role-playing).
If the form does not appear below, please use this link: https://forms.gle/YhCGMZZFwmtuHZHM6
Please note that we may contact you to arrange a short Zoom conversation to ensure a good fit.