After John Cage: 'Writing through' Carlyle and Emerson

An online writing project and workshop with writer Victoria Miguel

Thursday 30 April and Friday 8 May (online workshops)
Writing project throughout May


We’re pleased to share some of the first material here
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This spring, we invite you to participate in a writing project and online workshop with Victoria Miguel, a writer and specialist in the work of artist and composer John Cage, which explores Cage’s method of ‘writing through’ and draws on letters exchanged between the celebrated Scottish author and essayist Thomas Carlyle and the American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Their life-long correspondence began following a visit Emerson made to Carlyle’s home near Dunscore, Dumfriesshire in August 1833, and it influenced fellow writer Henry David Thoreau, who wrote about Carlyle (and briefly about the Dumfriesshire landscape) whilst famously staying on Walden Pond on land owned by Emerson.

John Cage returned repeatedly to the writings of Henry David Thoreau as a source for his practice of ‘writing through,’ and Helen Mirra has in turn drawn on Cage’s indeterminate approach and his focus on the everyday in her own work.

Beginning with an online workshop led by Victoria, you will explore some of John Cage’s writing techniques, focusing in particular on his use of chance and what he called ‘writing through,’ processes he used to make new texts from existing ones.

After experimenting with the technique in the first half of the workshop, you will have time within the session to begin your own process of ‘writing through,’ drawing on letters exchanged by Carlyle and Emerson.

You will then be able to finish your process of ‘writing through’ over a four-week period following the workshop. Victoria will be periodically available throughout this time for additional help and queries, and there will be the opportunity to share writing-in-progress. The finished writings will be gathered together in a pamphlet that will bring the writing of each participant into a collective form and contribute to a final outcome at CAMPLE LINE in late summer.

The workshops will take place on Crowdcast. (Please note this is free to use and easily available online. It does not require to be installed on a device)

Victoria Miguel is a writer. Her work has been published and presented by Triple Canopy, Summerhall, and Glasgow International. She worked for the John Cage Trust (2001-2007) and has been a specialist in Cage’s work, creating unique performances, for more than a decade. In 2019, she produced ‘Mewantemooseicday’ 2019, a day-long celebration of Cage and Merce Cunningham developed in collaboration with the University of Glasgow, The Glasgow School of Art, and Dance Studio Scotland at Clyde College