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Randomness and chance as writing methodology: Is there a case for Dada in the academic essay?

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This article attempts to first speculate and then demonstrate how Dada methods can be used by creative practitioners or writers in general within an academic essay. In particular, the inclusion of randomness and chance is examined in the writing process with a view to foreground materiality in writing development and execution. Methods to make use of chance and to randomize text are outlined and the distinction between randomness and chance is clearly drawn. Antecedents to Dada and to the cut-up techniques that form the focus of the method outlined here are examined and offer context for the development of an embodied and empowered approach to challenges encountered around academic writing. Furthermore, contemporary scholarship that reflects on writing in higher education is drawn on to highlight the article’s primary purpose; that being to offer a background, explanation and useful methodology for the inclusion of randomness and chance which addresses the institutional demands encountered by students. The article draws on work created and discussed at a workshop that took place at Central St Martins in 2019, called ‘Breaking Into and Out of Academic Writing’. This workshop included various students from University of Arts London experimenting with the cut-up techniques and discussing their potential use in writing.

Keywords: Dada; chance; essay; materiality; methodology; monteur; randomness; writing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000085170017University of Arts London

Publication date: January 1, 2021

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  • The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice is the official organ of the Writing Purposefully in Art and Design (Writing PAD) network. It offers art and design institutions an arena in which to explore and develop the notion of thinking through writing as a parallel to visual discourse in art and design practice. The journal aims to extend the debates to all national and international higher educational art and design institutions.
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