English seminar: ‘The Body and the Page: The Challenge of Adaptation’ / ‘A Formal Representation of Natural Language Processing through 15^238, a Participatory, Conceptual Verse Novel’
Presenter: Kira Legaan and Joel Ephraims
Paper 1: Kira Legaan, ‘The Body and the Page: The Challenge of Adaptation’
When the writer produces an autobiographical work, it brings forth questions of narrative coherence and verisimilitude. After creating and performing a theatrical play based on my own traumatic history, my challenge was to adapt this into a text of creative non-fiction, utilising it to interrogate ideas around textual enunciation and physical embodiment. As one medium relies on the power of the spoken word and corporeal presence, the other demands written articulation for that same experience. Employing Julia Kristeva’s work on the unspeakability of trauma’s expression, and Bessel van der Kolk’s scholarship on the neuroscience of profound traumatic experience, I wish to examine the tension that exists in the relationship between drama and the written word, the body and the page, and consider notions of testimony and authority this interaction may present. Acknowledging truth and seeking its linguistic expression, entails a brutal recognition of the fallibility of the human psyche and the problematic nature of the medium through which memory and the body are represented. This paper will look to Quinn Eades identification of ecriture matiere and the power of fragmentation to navigate this process of adaptation and engagement. As contemporary writers and scholars we must pay attention when, ‘this body, speaking, asks you to read. And as you read, it will require you to both fly and fall’ (Eades 2017: 27).
Kira Legaan is about to complete her Doctor of Arts at the University of Sydney. She also has an Advanced Associate Diploma in Theatre and Performance (NIDA 2001) and was a professional dancer for the Qld. Ballet Company (1986-1998). She has been published in Philament, the 20th AAWP Conference and Paper (Swinburne University), The University of Sydney Anthology and Hodder and Stoughton’s Breaking The Silence.
Paper 2: Joel Ephraims, ‘A Formal Representation of Natural Language Processing (NLP) through 15238, a Participatory, Conceptual Verse Novel’
The ethical, political and social problems that arise from the widespread use of artificial intelligence (AI) and its algorithms in societies worldwide by both corporate and governmental powers is a current hot topic in global news media. These problems arise not just by how AI algorithms are used but also from their fundamental nature of simplifying the real-world into reduced, quantitative representations.
To this point my thesis will formally represent the inner structural procedures of AI algorithms towards representing and challenging the cultural production and political power of these algorithms as (semi-)autonomous interactors in society. I will focus on natural language processing (NLP) algorithms, the AI algorithms that sort, manipulate and create natural language, and I will focus in on the effects of these algorithms on the natural language eco(echo)system of Australia.
Conceptual writing is the cutting-edge of avant-garde writing today and advocates the radical appropriation of language towards the representation and critique of the culture industry at the level of both its societal operation and materiality, for my project, the radically new commercialised state of language that NLP algorithms present.
I will create a hybrid, participatory conceptual verse novel that represents NLP algorithms in a non-technical, visual and textual manner through a narrative involving a city populated by superheroes and ruled over by insects. 15238 will be accessible to a lay reader and will also involve a number of participants in a radically democratic and utopian critique of the duplicitous participatory extraction and exploitation of NLP infrastructures.
Joel Ephraims is a second-year PhD candidate in creative writing at the University of Sydney. He poetry has appeared in Griffith Review, Cordite, The Marrickville Pause, Australian Poetry Journal, Overland and The Australian Weekend Review, among other places. In 2011 he won the Overland Judith Wright Prize for new and emerging poets and in 2016 he won the Overland NUW Fair Australia prize for poetry. He recently presented an academic paper on Todd Phillips’ 2019 film Joker at the Australian and New Zealand American Studies Association (ANZASA) 2021 conference and his first full-length collection of poems, Biota, was published by Apothecary Archive in March of 2022. His second full-length collection of poems, Vaanya’s Ghosts, is currently under consideration for publication.
Contact: Liam Semler (firstname.lastname@example.org)