Sophie Seita

Assistant Professor

  • Title Assistant Professor
  • Office 523
  • Education MPhil Cambridge
    PhD Queen Mary University of London

I’m an interdisciplinary researcher, artist, writer, and translator. My text- and archive-based practice spans poetry, performance, lecture-performance, video, translation, multimedia and queer-feminist collaborations. I regularly give talks about my academic and creative practice and work internationally on various projects. Before coming to BU, I held a three-year Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (JRF) at Queens’ College, University of Cambridge, where I was one of the convenors of the Interdisciplinary Network ‘Re-’. During my PhD, I was a Visiting Scholar at Columbia and NYU, and was involved with the Blue Mountain Project at Princeton (a digital modernist magazine archive) and with Archive of the Now (a digital archive of poetry recordings), and co-curated the 2016 Segue Series as well as the simultaneous and live-streamed ‘unAmerican Activities Transatlantic Reading Series’ between New York and London (2013-2015). You can learn more about my practice on my website and on vimeo.

Research Interests

My research focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first-century Anglophone avant-garde poetry, art, and poetics; artistic communities; print culture and periodical studies; contemporary experiments with performance writing, feminist and queer performance art, artistic collaborations, mixed media art, and practice-based research. I also have an interest in experimental translations (across languages and media), multilingualism, creative non-fiction/poetic essays, video essays, and works that fall through generic cracks.

My monograph Provisional Avant-Gardes: Little Magazine Communities from Dada to Digital (Stanford University Press, 2019) is a diachronic study of provisional avant-garde communities through the medium of the magazine, which rethinks received views of avant-garde groups and their respective historical, social, and aesthetic boundaries. I’m particularly interested in aspects of a magazine’s production (including print/publishing technology and materiality), distribution (e.g. readings, social media), and reception, as well as wider theoretical questions about hospitality, feminism, identity, and canonicity, and what it might mean to be avant-garde today.

My second creative-critical project Literary Live Art examines writing and text in, for, and through performance, from an intersectional and practice-based angle. The project involves critical analysis, archival research, interviews, and a practice-based approach through performances and performative lectures, and experiments with writing style, forms of publishing, and ‘making public’. In other words, beyond describing contemporary performance practices I also explore my research questions performatively, collaboratively, and pedagogically, thus offering imaginative ways of producing and distributing knowledge.

I’m currently writing Lessons of Decal, a queer-feminist meditation on reading, on transfers, on sluggishness, on slickness, on the stickiness of knowledge, on listening, on not planning, on vulnerability and fierceness—in a series of lyrically spun experimental essays. Other topics include alternative and embodied modes of learning and relating, my teachers of reading (which may be objects), poetry’s phantom limbs, lazy laboratories, a pedagogy of percolation, playlists as gifts, queer love poems, serious copying, and non-dull repetition.

Creative practice

I work with language on the page, in performance, video, and through translation, often responding to older literary, archival, and philosophical materials and ideas, with a commitment to collaboration, formal difficulty, and intersectional politics. In 2019, I had a solo exhibition of text, videos, and performance props at [ SPACE ] Gallery in London. I have performed or shown my work at the Royal Drawing School, Art Night 2018, the Royal Academy, Bold Tendencies, Raven Row, the Serpentine, Parasol Unit, Queer Art Projects (all London), the Arnolfini (Bristol), JNU (Delhi, India), Taller Bloc (Santiago, Chile), SAAS-Fee Summer Institute of Art (Berlin), Company Gallery, Issue Project, and La MaMa Galleria (all NYC), De Brakke Grond (Amsterdam), Kettle’s Yard and New Hall Art Collection (both Cambridge), Cité Internationale des Arts (Paris), and elsewhere. I’m currently collaborating with Naomi Woo on a research-based performance project that performatively re-imagines and responds to work by neglected female artists, writers, musicians, and philosophers (such as Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Pauline Oliveros, and Hildegard of Bingen). This project takes the form of performances, sound pieces, mail art, a participatory public art project, and texts. I’m also collaborating with the performance artist Kate Clayton on a project about compost as medium and metaphor for intergenerational dialogue.

AWARDS

I have received an Arts & Humanities Impact Grant, a Cambridge Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement Award, a Beinecke Fellowship at Yale, a Princeton University Library Research Grant, a Charles D. Abbott Fellowship (Poetry Collection, SUNY Buffalo), a Hölderlin Scholarship, writing residencies at The Guesthouse (Cork, Ireland) and T.S. Eliot House, a collaborative mini-residency at Raven Row (London), as well as scholarships, grants, awards, and support from Constellations (UP Projects/Flat Time House), a-n The Artists Information Company, NYU, Queen Mary University of London, Lambeth City Council, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes (multiple), the Judith E. Wilson Fund (multiple), the Cambridge Humanities Research Grant Scheme (twice), Cambridge Humanities Starter Fund, Columbia University’s Gatsby Foundation, the Arts and Culture Fund (QMUL, London), PEN America, and Asymptote.

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

books

essays

  • ‘Poetry’s Phantom Limbs’, in ON FIGURE/S(MA BIBLIOTHÈQUE, 2020), forthcoming.
  • ‘Decals of Love, or, The One True Imposter’, Manifold: Experimental Criticism (Fall 2020). [forthcoming]
  • ‘Let it Percolate: A Manifesto for Reading’, Bricks from the Kiln, 4 (Oct 2020) [forthcoming]
  • ‘Books that Hold Performance’, Bomb, 151 (12 Mar 2020). [print & online]
  • ‘“Reality is there to be corrected”; or, How I Toyed with the Enlightenment’, 9 West Road (Cambridge Faculty of English, Dec 2019), online.
  • ‘The Politics of the Forum in Feminist Avant-Garde Magazines after 1980’, jml:Journal of Modern Literature, 42.1 (Fall 2018), pp. 163-182.
  • ‘Tom Raworth’s Little Magazines: OutburstBefore Your Very Eyes!, and Infolio’, Critical Quarterly, 59.2 (Summer 2017), 11-33.
  • ‘Thinking the Unprintable in Contemporary Post-Digital Publishing’, Chicago Review, 60.4 (Fall 2017), 175-194.
  • ‘Lodging & Dislodging the Little Magazine: A Google Document Conversation in Fifteen Parts’, commissioned article, co-written with Danny Snelson, for the print and digital magazine Hotel(April 2017).
  • ‘The Ethics of Attention in Peter Larkin’s “Leaves of Field”’, Cordite Review, 44 (Summer 2013), online.

as editor

  • Centenary facsimile edition of The Blind Man(Ugly Duckling Presse/Beinecke Library, 2017). The boxed set includes the three issues of The Blind Man, my introductory essay as a separate booklet, a letterpress poster of The Ridgefield Gazook, and an offset printed poster for The Blind Man’s Ball, designed by Beatrice Wood. Named one of the Best Art Books of 2017 by The New York Times. Reviewed in the Journal of Artists’ Books, Hyperallergic (January and February 2018), the Brooklyn Rail, and on Douglas Messerli’s blog. My lecture performance inspired by Duchamp and Beatrice Wood is available here.

book chapters

  • ‘Contemporary Experimental Translations and Translingual Poetics’, in Reading Experimental Writing, ed. by Georgina Colby (Edinburgh University Press, August 2019).

interviews

  • ‘A “Xerox Coup d’Etat”:  Sophie Seita Interviews Kevin Killian about Editing Mirage and Mirage #4/Period[ical]’, Poets House (15 October 2018), originally published by CLMP: Front Porch Commons (September 2015).
  • ‘On Alembic’, Interview with Ken Edwards and Robert Hampson, Mimeo Mimeo, 9 (2014); republished online on Jacket2(January 2018).

literary publications

  • My Little Enlightenment Plays (Pamenar Press, 2020).
  • My Little Enlightenment: A Lecture Performance, a risograph artist book/chapbook, designed by Jack Henrie Fisher, publ. by Other Forms (2019).
  • Transpositions, artist book, edition of 7. Part of a commission funded by the Wellcome Trust on queer kinship, corn, and reproductive technologies. Commissioned by Reproc Soc for the exhibition Reproductivities, in collaboration with an exhibition at the New Hall Art Collection.
  • Subsisters: Selected Poems, translation from the German of Uljana Wolf (New York: Belladonna, 2017).
  • Les Bijoux Indiscrets, or, Paper Tigers (Gauss PDF, 2017), performance text.
  • Meat (Houston, TX: Little Red Leaves, 2015), poems.
  • i mean i dislike that fate that i was made to where, English translation of Uljana Wolf and winner of the 2014 Wonder Prize (New York: Wonder, 2015).
  • Fantasias in Counting (Buffalo: BlazeVOX Books, 2014), poetic performance texts.
  • 12 Steps (Cambridge: Wide Range Chapbooks, 2012), poems.
  • Numerous magazine publications in for example the Capilano Review, the London Review of BooksPEN AmericaThe White ReviewCambridge Literary ReviewLana TurnerGulf CoastHotelSTILL, and others.

media and reviews

RECENT PERFORMANCES, VIDEOS, INSTALLATIONS

 

solo

  • Vulva’s School: A F*cking Didactic Take on Experimental Feminist Performance Art, or, How to Read, performance and video, WIP Queer Art Projects (2020), JNU Delhi, India (2020); Florens Cargo, Darmstadt, Germany (2019); Cambridge (2018).
  • Transpositions, commissioned performance, sound piece, on reproductive technologies, queer kinship, ritual, and repetition. New Hall Art collection, Cambridge, Oct. 2018, funded by the Wellcome Trust.
  • Reading Fountain, lecture performance, Royal Academy, London (2017), Center for Experimental Humanities, New York (2018).
  • Emilia Galotti’s Colouring Book of Feelings, Kunsthalle Darmstadt for Bauhaus centenary (2019); Art Night 2018; Torn Page (2018), Parasol Unit (2017), Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (2017).
  • Don Carlos, or, Royal Jelly, at [SPACE] (2019), Arnolfini, Bristol (2017); Company Gallery, NYC (2016).
  • Les Bijoux Indiscrets, or, Paper Tigers; [SPACE] (2019), Bold Tendencies (2017), La MaMa Galleria, commissioned by NYPAC (2017); Issue Project Room (2017)

collaborations

  • Pearl & Theory Make Compost, collaboration with Kate Clayton, performance, video, text, photographs (2020). Funded by an a-n grant.
  • The Minutes of the Hildegard von Bingen Society for Garden Companions, collaboration with Naomi Woo. Premiere at Tete a Tete Festival Sep 2020.
  • Beethoven Was a Lesbian, performance, sound piece, and mail art project with Naomi Woo. Upcoming performances: New Hall (Cambridge, 2019), Tete a Tete Festival (London, 2020), Café Oto (London, 2021), Harvard (Mar 2021).
  • Desire Lines, collaboration with Simone Kearney, performance, Raven Row (2019), Boston University (2020).

installations/exhibitions

  • Queer Art Projects London (2020), Heong Gallery (2020); SPACE Mare Street (2019); Bargehouse/Oxo Tower (2018); Francis Crick Institute part of Art Night (2019; Time Out Pick of the week); Ugly Duck (2016), Tactic Gallery Cork, Ireland (2014), Dixon Place NYC (2014); Torn Page, NYC (2013).

 

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