The Manifesto: Literary Outlaw, or Outlaw of Literature?

By Kenneth DiMaggio.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Some manifestos are anthologized with other literary genres. Marx and Engles’ The Communist Manifesto is one example. Then there are manifestos we might prefer to forget: Theodore Kaczynski’s The Unabomber Manifesto. Why do some manifestos receive literary recognition, while others do not? In this paper, I will look at two examples of manifestos, the first a selection of Tristan Tzara’s Seven Dada Manifestos, a document announcing the art movement known as Dada. The second manifesto is more of an “outlaw” or exile of literature, Valerie Solanas’ radical feminist theory presented in her Scum (Society for Cutting Up Men) Manifesto. Despite this document’s lack of literary recognition, it refuses to die as a text. Is the genre of the manifesto itself always suspect? Will it be a genre always on the fringes of the literary canon? Are some of the questions I will try to address in this paper.

Keywords: Manifestos, Dada, Tristan Tzara, Valerie Solanas, Literary Outlaw

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.29-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 767.158KB).

Kenneth DiMaggio

Associate Professor, Humanities, Capital Community College, Hartford, Connecticut, USA

I am an Associate Professor of Humanities at Capital Community College in Hartford Connecticut. CCC is an urban community college where students are often reading at a level that is below traditional college course work, thus making literacy a prime issue that constantly needs to be addressed. As a teacher of Literature, I am constantly looking for new texts and teaching pedagogies to help address the above issue.

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