Discussion facilitator: Richard P
Facilitator bio: http://peoplescolloquium.org/teacher-bios/
Discussion title: Making The Familiar Strange with Viktor Shklovsky
During this discussion, we’ll analyze the essay “Art as Technique” by Viktor Shklovsky.
“Art as Technique” is famous for introducing the concept of “de-familiarization.” In brief, the goal of de-familiarization is to make the “familiar strange” in order to interrupt the reader’s habitual modes of interaction and understanding, and to represent the world as novel and rich. The concept can be applied to how language is shaped (by creating unusual language) as well as to the content of language (by presenting subject matters in unusual ways). The concept’s influence reaches into a surprising number of fields, including literature, theatre, film, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and beyond—which can be explored further in the optional readings listed below.
The first part of our discussion will be a group analysis of the text. This part will last for roughly one hour. While it’s requested that our participants read the text in advance, if possible, all are welcome to attend the discussion, even if they do not have enough time in advance to read the text — there will be time enough to learn while we’re together.
The second part of our discussion will be devoted to answering the following question: “How can we use the concept of “de-familiarization” to make people more aware of themselves, their world, and their role therein?” This part of the discussion will also last roughly one hour.
The following resources provide additional information, context, and history. These are optional to read or view in advance to our discussion.
- De-familiarization (wikipedia) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamiliarization
- Viktor Shkovsky (wikipedia) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Shklovsky#Writer_and_theorist
- Russian Formalism (wikipedia) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_formalism
Semester's Theme: “Theory, Criticism, and Society”
This discussion fits into a larger series of connected discussions and lectures running from 10/2018 - 3/2019. During this series, we’ll explore a variety of ideas from theory and criticism focusing on art, literature, music, and culture, with the further intention of applying such ideas to the creation and organization of society. Our goal during this quarter is to deepen our understanding of theory and criticism, and to broaden our perspective of the world we live in—and the possibilities open to us.