Shyness, Cushions, and Food
Case Studies in American Creative Communities

In this paper I look at some often-overlooked aspects of creative collaboration, drawing on my experiences in a series of group projects in which I participated over a span of almost 30 years. The infrastructural and interpersonal details of creative collaborationŃthe architectural space and seating arrangements, food and drink, public and private meeting spaces, meeting management, social conventions—I argue to be important factors in the quantity and quality of the work produced. These elements are often excluded from certain types of scholarly discourse and I make a parallel argument for the importance of their inclusion in literary history and criticism.

I use examples such as: Invisible Seattle (a literary/performance group and early e-literature pioneers), Persimmons & Myrrh (a structured show-and-tell society that included among its members David Sedaris), Chicago e-Lit Dinners (a breeding ground for e-literature projects and community), Rude Trip (a German/American collaborative literature project) and Imperial Quality Media (producers of netprov e-literature.

Adapted from a talk given at the Electronic Literature Communities Seminar in Bergen, Norway on September 21, 2010, as part of the Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice (ELMCIP) project.

The Long Table of Invisible Seattle
The Munchkin Palace and the Novel of Seattle, by Seattle
Loneliness and Online Venues
The Derrida Tele-Banquet, the Harry Mathews Interdact
Persimmons and Myrrh Show and Tell Society
Chicago E-Lit Dinners, Introductions and Balance of Conversation
Imperial Happy Hour

Works Cited