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Review: Conceptualisms: The Anthology of Prose, Poetry, Visual, Found, E- & Hybrid Writing As Contemporary Art, ed. Steve Tomasula. Alabama UP, 2022

Steve Tomasula’s robust new anthology delivers its readers a dazzling variety of aesthetic artifacts, as the list after the title’s colon suggests. The diversity across its 500+ pages and 14+ hours of online content separates Conceptualisms from collections of a more mainstream bent. He has gathered online animations, recorded performances, and interactive platforms along with experimental works of fiction, essays, and poetry; in the collection’s last section, we see a transcript, a legal summary, a grant proposal, and a contract, all of which Tomasula argues can be classed as literature (while also proposing that the entries raise the question of […]
Read more » Review: Conceptualisms: The Anthology of Prose, Poetry, Visual, Found, E- & Hybrid Writing As Contemporary Art, ed. Steve Tomasula. Alabama UP, 2022

Steve Tomasula

Steve Tomasula is the author of the novels The Book of Portraiture (FC2); VAS: An Opera in Flatland (University of Chicago Press), an acclaimed novel of the biotech revolution; TOC: A New-Media Novel (FC2/University of Alabama Press); and most recently, IN&OZ (University of Chicago Press). Essays on body art, literature and culture can be found in Data Made Flesh (Routledge), Musing the Mosaic (SUNY), Leonardo (M.I.T.), and numerous magazines both here and in Europe. He holds a doctorate in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is on the faculty of the University of Notre Dame. In addition […]

Languages of Fear in Steve Tomasula’s VAS, an Opera in Flatland

Square, the main character in VAS, is to undergo a vasectomy, as required by his wife who has gone through too many problems with pregnancy. His fear at the prospect of losing the highly emblematic reproductive function mingles with philosophical musings about the manipulation of bodies and technological advance, with its consequences on our relationship to space and time. Like most of his contemporaries, Square feels trapped in a whirlpool of acceleration, distances fading away as communication means develop. VAS – which possibly is the very novel that Square is writing – conveys a criticism of man’s illusory mastery and […]
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An Interview with Steve Tomasula

Kiki Benzon: Some contextualizing questions about TOC. What motivated you to move from the codex print narrative to a multimedia format? What were you trying to achieve there that you thought couldn’t be done in a conventional book? Steve Tomasula: It dates back to my earlier work. I was working on The Book of Portraiture and VAS was supposed to have been the last chapter of that book. To me it’s all one novel about the history of representation, so to speak. It starts off with writing in sand, the first surface, and ends up with writing on skin, the last […]

A Video Interview with Steve Tomasula by Jhave

Steve Tomasula “is the author of the novels The Book of Portraiture (FC2/University of Alabama Press); IN & OZ (University of Chicago Press); VAS: An Opera in Flatland (University of Chicago Press), an acclaimed novel of the biotech revolution; and most recently, TOC: A New-Media Novel (FC2/University of Alabama Press).” In VAS, Tomasula weaves fertility concerns into a priapic future while using a very sophisticated visual layout that renders his prose as poetry. Tomasula’s TOC, an interactive DVD, is equally ambitious, incorporating motion graphics into a meditation on thermodynamics, myth and temporality. http://www.electronicbookreview.com/author/steve-tomasula Conducted by David (Jhave) Johnson, this interview was […]
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The Archeology of Representation: Steve Tomasula’s The Book of Portraiture

The title of this paper borrows from Steve Tomasula’s own characterization of his novel in an interview; the central idea of his book, he suggests, is “the archaeology of human representation through layers of history that make up its chapters,”  and in which “pages appear as strata in an archaeological dig” (Tarnawsky 2011). Indeed, Tomasula’s phrase “the archaeology of human representation” resonates sharply, for the specter of Foucault hovers tantalizingly throughout one’s encounter with the book. Central to Foucault’s grappling with “the history of the present” – comprising an archaeological method and a genealogical critique – is the idea that […]
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&Now Conference Review

&Now Conference April 5-6, 2004 W: Compared to the Holocaust Conference going on up in Massachusetts this weekend, I think &Now was an especially fun place to be. The preisenters were freaks for the most part, freaks and Lydia Davis, from the fringes of word art. Those who write and have other people publish books of stories or poems were probably in the minority. There was abundant electronica, collaborative text-collage performance, multimedia performance fiction, text-image-sound, and even a critic. Compared to AWP in Chicago last month (4600 in attendance), the frightening barren gothic oppressively mirthless tornadoproof Cambridge WWII Air Raid […]

Long Talking Bad Conditions Illinois Blues: A Report on &Now, A Festival of Innovative Writing and Art

I been to Chicago and I been to Detroit But I never had a good time till I got up in Illinois – Skip James, “Illinois Blues” Chicago Self-Portrait You are watching me, runny nose and throbbing headache, wheel an 80-lb. suitcase (for which United Airlines charged me a $25 overweight fee on the flight from Buffalo – still cheaper and more trustworthy than shipping) down Halsted Avenue in Chicago on a brisk sunny April Tuesday morning. The suitcase is freighted with books, and the books freighted with just about every spare moment I’ve had from my college teaching job […]
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“You’ve never experienced a novel like this”: Time and Interaction when reading TOC

“You’ve never experienced a novel like this” asserts the publisher’s information for TOC (2009), Steve Tomasula’s new-media novel. This claim, presumably, is founded precisely on the new-media nature of TOC, its delivery of text, spoken word, music, graphics and animation all harnessed and combined in a computerised narrative. The publisher’s information certainly makes some bold claims. TOC is “a breathtaking visual novel,” “a multimedia epic”; “A new-media hybrid, TOC reimagines what the book is, and can be.” And I find myself powerless to disagree. “You’ve never experienced a novel like this” speaks volumes, for experience is at the heart of […]
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Flatland in VAS

Steve Tomasula’s work, VAS: An Opera in Flatland, an imagetext developed with graphic artist and typographer Stephen Farrell, considers the role of eugenics, its history, and its impact on the body and biotechnology in a novel that serves as a visual digression of how such topics as genetics, reproduction, and body modification are culturally represented through text and image. The plot follows the thoughts of a writer named Square as he deliberates over whether to get a vasectomy (the VAS of the title) as his wife, Circle, wishes. All the while, Square’s mother-in-law, hoping for another grandchild, believes that if […]