Kathy Acker: Writing and the Feminist Sex Wars
Explore the "sex wars" from the 1980s with Kathy Acker's experimental stripper writings. With Tessel Veneboer
The author Kathy Acker (1947-1997) worked as a stripper in San Diego, performed in short porn films and wrote scripts for a live sex show she performed on 42nd street in New York. Throughout her oeuvre Acker returns to these experiences and merges them with her infamous appropriation of the male canon, copying from a wide range of writers and philosophers like Charles Dickens, Marquis de Sade, Georges Bataille and Arthur Rimbaud.
In this reading group we will look at two short texts in which Acker combines her plagiaristic writing strategy with autobiographical material: “Stripper disintegration” (1973) and “Politics” (1972). In these years Acker assigned herself to write every day while doing sex work. Acker wrote “fake autobiography” copying not only from other texts but also from conversations she overheard among her colleagues.
Tessel Veneboer is a PhD researcher at the Department of English at Ghent University. She specializes in queer theory and experimental literature and is currently working on a dissertation on Kathy Acker (supported by the Research Foundation Flanders). Her literary criticism and short stories have appeared with De Nederlandse Boekengids, deBuren and nY, among others.
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