"Fictocriticism and the Futures of Writing" with Anna Gibbs


Once upon a time the novel was an instantiation of the house of fiction, an architectonics of story, or, as described by Henry James, an impossible, dreamlike architecture that provided innumerable apertures each with its particular lens through which to focus an affective apprehension of the world.

Once upon a time critique could rely on the capacity of expertise for distinction – especially between subjects and objects - to construct a framework of authority supporting its arguments.

Once upon a time fictocriticism challenged the pretensions of writing in the Humanities to unsituated and passionless objectivity, insisting on the key role played by the affective investments of story – curiosity and excitement as indices of what mattered  – in Humanities research.

If the hyphen attempts to join the ‘ficto’ with the ‘critical’ it also inevitably severs them and holds them apart. In this tense and quivering gap between them arises the possibility of a writing otherwise: a writing in which the confident authority of argument gives way to hesitation and doubt, and the house of fiction begins to fall apart. Here place is displaced; setting becomes unstable; site gives way to constantly shifting situation. We are in the middle of something, immersed in the materiality of writing as doing and making, a thinking taking shape in action, and then shifting that shape again at the very moment it forms. It is in this process that writing takes place.



Professor Anna Gibbs teaches in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at Western Sydney University. A member of the Writing and Society Research Centre and the Digital Humanities Research Group, she writes across the fields of textual, media and cultural studies focussing on feminism, fictocriticism and affect theory. Co-editor of three collections of Australian experimental writing, she is currently completing a book on feminist theory and electronic literature (Exscryptions: Memory, Movement, and the Unfolding of Space in Digital Writing) with Maria Angel. Her experimental and cut up writing has been widely published and internationally performed. She curated the ‘(Un)coverings: Art, Writing and the Book’ exhibition at Horus and Delores Gallery, and is currently collaborating with artists Elizabeth Day, Julie Gough and Noelene Lucas on The Longford Project, which works with the colonial history of Tasmania to turn the coincidence of common ancestry into reconnection and reconciliation in the present.