Cutting Things Up:  Mapping the Political Interface of William S. Burroughs

FSU Digital Scholars

William S. Burroughs is remembered and renowned as much for his unique character – the deviant, queer, drug-addicted radical of the Beat Generation – as he was for his controversial writing. Dr. Stanley Gontarski’s work with the William S. Burroughs Archive at Florida State University demonstrates the importance of historicizing and visualizing the “life” of William S. Burroughs as it exists inside the editing, writing, and the cut-up processes of Burroughs’ experimental writing projects.

Famous for his highly experimental writing style and the elaboration of Brion Gysin’s “cut-up method” in novel form, Burroughs’ writing practice cannot be separated from his personae.  Form and content merge as Burroughs “cuts-up” the capitalist power structure of history and travels into the future through “viral signifiers” (Harris, Nova xiii).  His overtly queer writings are intertwined with his radical anti-capitalist politics as well as his scientific and creative study of communicative and linguistic systems of…

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