What is alternative literature ?

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Using between 500 and 1,000 words please describe, explain and give three examples of alternative literature. Your essay should touch on the historical, socio-economical, and political aspects of such works, as well as the normative and non-normative functionality of literature within contextual class re-alignment. As we discussed in class, please make reference to the post-structural and late romantical divisions associated with creative output from neo-classical, polyamory and underclass restructering of the imaginitive impulse. Post-metaphorical determintive criticism which incorporates elements from semiotics and figurative mediation from classical Roman road-building to Pop Art encouraged. Finally, in a clear analysis of the place of the writer within pagan, Marxist, neo-liberal, fascist and post-democractic societies, demonstrate how your definition of alternative from a creative perspective aligns with rapid advancement of technology in a post-colonial, post-Lacanian, world of fragmented psuedo-relationships and non-fragmentary cultural identities. Points will be deducted if less than 5 examples are not provided.

 

Heh. Just kidding. put whatever the hell you want.

Comments

Can I enroll in a grad program just so I can build my thesis around that question? :-)

Back to the topic, I'm lousy at "what is" questions since I tend toward "you'll know it when you see it" answers, but I would say alternative has to be a reaction, usually experimental, against the mainstream. Also, alternative tends to morph into mainstream over time, so the genre tends to be a moving target. But in general I think any work that tries to push the boundaries of narrative, revisit how ideas are presented, and focuses on topics or themes that most (if not all) ignore can be considered alternative. They need not be aggressive in nature either. A writer like Aimee Bender seems to fit the mold. But it seems the more iconoclastic a work is the bigger its splash upon arrival.

Looking forward to seeing where this discussion goes. I need a few new books to read.
It's like all those books you never hear on the radio but have a following anyway. Alt lit is the reader's equivalent of midnight movies or college radio. It's the type of writing your high school English teacher wouldn't understand. Alt lit has a touch of the subversive and aligns more with punk than the straight world although it can be in disguise. It's underground but doesn't need to be. Providing examples of alt lit is tough, because while there are alt lit type books with wide familiarity (like 'House of Leaves'), it's hard to find alt lit readers who have read the same alt lit, and it ends up sounding like the name dropping of obscure titles. I'm not a genre snob, but I think alt lit needs to have an edge in form as well as content. For example, just featuring a character with tattoos doesn't make it alt lit by itself. The way the story is told should have an alt-y vibe as well.
Alt lit...that's the good stuff, the heart of writing...fresh meat (or veggies if you prefer)...it's at first considered weird or maybe quirky by the more wary readers...it's cutting edge stuff that eventually becomes popular just like alternative music once everyone else catches on to it, by then it's time to look for the next generation...it's new and vibrant, it's unlike anything, sounds like nothing you've ever read before...it's special...it's not necessarily created by writers under 30. It's the stuff that makes one glad to be alive, and still reading.
It changes with the times, but certainly has specific focuses, recurring ideas.
perhaps these are features of alternative literature(s)
"it has a different form, syntax, vocabulary, than before" = alternative content, what it is
"it caused me to speak differently than before" = alternative effect, how it's used
"it is changing things in different places than before" = alternative market, where it exists

That's a powerful way of looking at it!
If it's different from 'before' then someone with literal tendencies will call it reactionary ... wrongfully and rightfully. It need not be so different, so long as the effect renders the reader awareness of a new and unusual enviroonment. I really do like what Michael developed above, an alternative trifecta based on what, how, and where. Think much of what exists in online 'alternative' fiction is minimalist and brautigan-like. Poems disguised as prose. Love the way it's developed into new forms and curious twists in perspective, some of which are at once brutal and magnificent. Not to say it's difficult to wade through the vast wasteland of self-initiated publication to find such gem-like creations. Maybe the role of editorial gatekeeper is one that will slowly disappear for a while, but eventually come back in new guises. I digressed. Sue me.
Fiddleblack #1 is more than alt lit conjecture. @fiddleblack . Conjecture about something we are conjecturing.
I consider some of my stuff alt lit though that may sound like I am being a braggart--maybe it isn't. My short piece BANG BANG and some of my poems are out there. But sometimes impenetrable.