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Conceptualisms: The Anthology of Prose, Poetry, Visual,

Found, E- and Other Hybrid Writings as Contemporary Art


Welcome to the online companion to the print anthology Conceptualisms. Gathered on the pages and screens that make up this web-print hybrid anthology are poems, fictions, electronic, found, and other kinds of contemporary writing from what has been called the “other tradition.” Multiple strands of this other tradition have gone by many names in the past, including, for example, the avant-garde, postmodern, metafiction, experimental, hybrid, innovative, or new writing.... Together, though, they can be thought of as conceptual writing: literature in which the forms, materials, or processes of writing foreground its concepts and make them an integral part of the aesthetic experience.


Separately, the works in this anthology do what new works of art often do: unsettle convention in order to make readers SEE. Like much visual or conceptual art, the literary works found here often defy easy classification. From the language-intense writing of Nathaniel Mackey, to poems as diverse as those written by the high-tech machines of Christian Bök, or as low-tech as the handmade pages of Johanna Drucker—or even David Antin, simply standing alone on stage and composing his prose poems live before an audience—the works gathered here are united in their treatment of language as an artistic medium. Together they comprise a portrait of a literary world that is far more wild, more varied, political, perplexing, challenging, thought-provoking, evocative, profound, and exciting than can be found on best-seller lists or the common bookshelf.


Conceptualisms is, in other words, an anthology that will cause many people new to this work to rethink what literature has been and might become. It does so through a presentation of writing that strives for forms in sync with the contemporary moment. That is, contemporary literature is literary history in the making, and nowhere is this more evident than in the variety of concepts it articulates, a variety that by the time you have finished this sentence has already expanded by at least +1.


This website contains the animations, sound recordings, videos, hyper and other electronic texts that no printed page could contain. It also duplicates the table of contents, and introductory notes found in the printed book, in addition to presenting brief statements by and biographies of the authors in the book. The prose, poetry and other written works not found on this website are contained in the printed book itself, Conceptualisms: The Anthology of Prose, Poetry, Visual, Found, E-, and Hybrid Writing as Contemporary Art, published by the University of Alabama Press.


To experience the full range, readers should have both the printed book and this website in hand.


Conceptualisms: The Anthology of Prose, Poetry, Visual, Found, E- and Hybrid Writings as Contemporary Art

Edited by Steve Tomasula


6" x 9" / 540 PAGES / 100 B&W FIGURES

ISBN 978-0-8173-6041-2 / $39.95t PAPER

ISBN 978-0-8173-9405-9 / $39.95 EBOOK




“Quick, what do all these things have in common: Language writing and electronic literature, visual writing and sound writing, appropriation, collage and recycling, found textual objects and machine writing? They are all conceptualisms, Steve Tomasula says, and he has assembled this bountiful, beautifully curated anthology to help us see how this is so. Tomasula has a sharp eye, an impeccable ear, a nose for connections and a wicked way with juxtaposition.  You already know some of these selections, but I’ll wager there are plenty you don’t know, and in any case you’ll want to have them all in one place on your bookshelf or wherever it is that you keep your archive these days.”

—Brian McHale, author of The Obligation Toward the Difficult Whole: Postmodernist Long Poems


“Conceptualisms is a state-of-the-art funhouse of experimental writing. Reading it is like riding a roller-coaster in a hall of narrative mirrors. Its nearly one-hundred selections range from postmodern masters like Gass, Coover, and Wallace to post-literature prophets such as Montfort, Jackson, and Bök. No other collection of innovative writing covers so much ground or is as wildly inclusive. A stunning achievement!”

—Jeffrey R. Di Leo, author of The End of American Literature


“In a time of media multiplicity, we may feel like we’ve had enough of printed books, marble busts, landscape paintings and other windows on the world. Our writing has become multivalenced and our reading is more textured now that we’ve gotten used to texting. Writing both with and against the machine, we situate ourselves conceptually all the time. Steve Tomasula’s anthology is the first book to demonstrate the material and aesthetic range that digital media bring to literary reading and writing. Conceptualisms stands as a codex for our times. Read it through, from start to finish and you will come away with a sense of what literature has become and where the best literary writing can now be found.

—Joseph Tabbi, University of Bergen, Norway and editor, ebr (

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