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Cool nothing: Dom Sylvester Houédard's coexistentialist concrete poetics

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    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Interdisciplinary Science Reviews on 24 Jul 2017, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03080188.2017.1297155.

    Accepted author manuscript, 2.49 MB, PDF document

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-108
JournalInterdisciplinary Science Reviews
Issue number1-2
Early online date24 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


This article concerns the concrete poetics of Dom Sylvester Houédard, which I define using a term from his 1963 article 'Concrete Poetry & Ian Hamilton Finlay",'coexistentialist". Houédard's concrete poetry has sometimes been criticised for ananachronistic avant-garde quality, because of its non-semantic use of writtenlanguage, and its associated air of intermedia experiment. But the term 'coexistentialist" has various connotations which allow us to interpret Houédard's work as highly responsive to its cultural moment, and to the unique theological tradition from which it emerged. These connotations include: the relationship between early and mid-twentieth-century modern art and literature; existentialist philosophy, especially the writing of Jean-Paul Sartre; Marshall McLuhan's theories on modern communication; and ecumenical dialogue within the Catholic Church during the Second Vatican Council. After presenting an outline of Houédard's poetics related to these themes, I analyse some of his concrete poems or 'typestracts", produced between 1967 and 1972.

    Research areas

  • Dom Sylvester Houedard, Concrete Poetry, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Marshall McLuhan, Jean-Paul Sartre, Intermediality

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