This introductory essay defines the background terms and context of constraint-based writing and then situates each essay included in this double issue of Poetics Today. Taking the example of the Oulipo (Workshop of Potential Literature) as the foundational reference of contemporary intentional experiments with formal literary creation, we delineate the shifting boundaries of constrained literature, both in terms of its various practitioners (the genres, techniques, intentions they inscribe into their work) and the increasingly wider audiences to which it appeals. Recapping a brief history of constrained contemporary writing, this introduction argues for a conception of constrained writing that emphasizes intelligent freedom, the potentials opened by new forms of media, and the effects of an extended community based on formal approaches to both the composition and the appreciation of literature.
Research Article| December 01 2009
Introduction: The Challenge of Constraint
Poetics Today (2009) 30 (4): 611–634.
Jan Baetens, Jean-Jacques Poucel; Introduction: The Challenge of Constraint. Poetics Today 1 December 2009; 30 (4): 611–634. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-2009-006
Download citation file: