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Listening Up, Writing Down, and Looking Beyond

Interfaces of the Oral, Written, and Visual

Susan Gingell and Wendy Roy, editors

Hardcover 388 pp.

ISBN13: 978-1-55458-364-5

Release Date: April 2012

Online discount: 25%

$85.00  $63.75


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Listening Up, Writing Down, and Looking Beyond is an interdisciplinary collection that gathers the work of scholars and performance practitioners who together explore questions about the oral, written, and visual. The book includes the voices of oral performance practitioners, while the scholarship of many of the academic contributors is informed by their participation in oral storytelling, whether as poets, singers, or visual artists. Its contributions address the politics and ethics of the utterance and text: textualizing orature and orality, simulations of the oral, the poetics of performance, and reconstructions of the oral.

Susan Gingell teaches and researches decolonizing and transnational literatures at the University of Saskatchewan. She is the editor of two volumes in The Collected Works of E.J. Pratt and of “Textualizing Orature and Orality,” a special issue of Essays on Canadian Writing (#83).

Wendy Roy is an associate professor of Canadian literature at the University of Saskatchewan. She has published a book on women’s travel writing in Canada, Maps of Difference: Canada, Women, and Travel (2005), as well as essays on writers Margaret Laurence and Carol Shields, among others.


“The essays in this collection cut boldly across disciplinary boundaries as they explore, from a myriad of perspectives—some familiar, some startlingly unfamiliar—the deep, fundamental connections that exist among the oral, verbal, and visual arts. As innovative as they are provocative, and as illuminating as they are engaging, the wide-ranging essays gathered here individually and collectively invite the reader to join in a polyphonous, multi-media conversation/sensory experience. Gingell and Roy deserve our thanks for putting together a volume that not only reflects the vibrancy, and diversity of oral studies in Canada, but opens numerous windows onto the richness of the many traditions considered in the collection. This volume is certain to change the way we look at and think about the dynamic interconnectivity of the oral, the written, and other verbal and visual media.”

— Mark C. Amodio, Vassar College, New York, author of Writing the Oral Tradition: Oral Poetics and Literate Culture in Medieval England

“This collection breaks important new ground in the use of ‘orality and literacy’ approaches to discourse and poetics. Particularly valuable is its constant integration of scholarly criticism and theory with creative practice, theoretical reflection with lived experiences of performance and artifact. The Introduction offers a memorable set of clarifications, highly sympathetic to the demands of creative practice, around the theory of orality and literacy, while the chapters bring Gingell and Roy’s exposition of the themes to an extremely rich and varied range of applications.”

— Tom Clark, Victoria University (Melbourne), author of Stay on Message: Poetry and Truthfulness in Political Speech (2012)

“The essays in Susan Gingell’s and Wendy Roy’s Listening Up, Writing Down, and Looking Beyond shake [the] simplistic binary [of the oral/written divide] to its very core, theorizing the inevitable interdependency of sound, sign, sight, and site.... Often employing language alive with poetic energy, what I will term the essays within Listening Up trouble the sensory depletion expected of standard academic prose while exploring ‘three thematic arcs: performance poetics, print textualizations of the oral, and the place of visual culture at the oral-written interface’.... Multimodal movement ... occurs with disarming and delightful frequency in the essays that coalesce to make Listening Up an extraordinarily valuable addition to the study of orality, performance poetry, textualization, and multisensory embodied experience.”

— Sam McKegney, Queen’s University, Chimo

“Energy and optimisim...characterize Susan Gingell and Wendy Roy’s Listening Up, Writing Down, and Looking Beyond, a collection of epic proportions.... The editors do precisely what they intend...break down barriers between the written, the oral and the visual, and destabilize the hierarchies between genres.... Gingell and Roy display a staggering breadth of knowledge of their field—something that could only be achieved by established and experienced scholars.... Continually playing with language, the editors invite readers to move ‘toward a more fully embodied knowing, a knowing that issues from attending to the complete sensorium and thus pleasures the knower with a knowing that doesn’t forget to have fun.”... The editors, by including both analytical and creative works in the collection, and by placing analyses of such diverse things as dub poetry, medieval English, Serbian guslars, and Cree ‘story bundles’ side by side, succeed in opening doors and shifting perceptions.... The participatory, democratic nature of the text comes through in the conversational elements, and in spite of their expertise, the editors approach their material with a humility that conforms to their goals.... How might a text of this scope be of use to teachers and scholars of literature? It really does shift the parameters of artistic production and reception, which opens up possibilities for teaching in particular. The collection ‘unsettles’ generic limitations, and promotes a return to the sensual that is too often absent from the analysis of literary production and reception.”

— Heather Macfarlane, Canadian Literature