Words are an effective tool to tell stories, to describe our world or to explain ideas. In the course ‘Epistolary Approaches: Writing and (Artistic) Research’ we will add yet another layer to these possibilities: using words to explore the vast potential of the very person writing – you.


Maya Rasker

For whom?

For 2nd, 3rd and 4th year BA students of KABK and LU


10 Meetings, Wednesdays 15.00-18.30h, Spring Semester (Febr.-May 2020)

Study load

3 EC (35 contact hours and 49 self study hours)

About this course

The course raises the question of how to recognize raw material for the expression of thought, of ideas and vision; how to use the potential of private (autobiographical) material for strong, eloquent storytelling. In the course, the act of writing – and more specifically of letter and fiction writing – and the analysis of the written will be presented as tools for (artistic) research, through the presentation of theories, writing exercises, and the study of texts by makers and thinkers.

You will learn how to use these different forms of writing for the articulation of a research or project proposal. Above all, you will learn how to overcome the common ‘fear of beginning’, and to start writing. The programme will guide you toward the production of a goal text – such as a poem or a selection of poems, a theatre piece, a short story, a graphic novel, a song text, a letter or a research proposal – as the outcome of the course, to be presented and discussed en groupe. Please note: this is NOT a course in academic writing, and NOT a course in so-called creative writing. The main aim of this course is to learn to apply strategies in writing to support one’s (artistic) research and practice.

The course is intended for 2nd, 3rd and 4th year BA students from all departments of the KABK. The course also welcomes students from Leiden University. Between 10 to 12 students can participate in the programme.

The course will be in English.

There are no admission requirements for this course. Apply before Friday 10 February 2020 23:59h (ECT) by registering for the course in Osiris.

  • 12 February 2020 (15.00-18.30h) room PA.021
  • 19 February 2020 (15.00-18.30h) room PA.021
  • 4 March 2019 (15.00-18.30h) room PA.021

  • 11 March 2020 (15.00-18.30h) room PA.021

  • 18 March 2020 (15.00-18.30h) room PA.021

  • 25 March 2020 (15.00-18.30h) room PA.021

  • 8 April 2020 (15.00-18.30h) room PA.021

  • 15 April 2020 (15.00-18.30h) room PA.021

  • 22 April 2020 (15.00-18.30h) room tba

Throughout the course, students will present their ideas and work-in-progress and reflect on ideas and texts presented by their fellow students. Besides doing the assigned readings in preparation for each session and completing the in-class assignments (source text; ‘shortest novel’ or haiku) they will work on two larger homework assignments (search text; goal text). All work produced in the course of the process will be documented and collected in a working portfolio. ECTS credits will be awarded on the basis of this portfolio (with particular attention to the goal text) and the performance in class.

Key competencies addressed in this course are: creative ability, capacity for critical reflection, capacity for growth and innovation, communicative ability and contextual awareness.

Students will be evaluated primarily with respect to the following criteria:

Presence: passive —> active

Participation: negative —> positive

Critical reflection: weak —> strong

(Conceptual) research: shallow —> thorough

Execution: simple —> enriched

Presentation: anonymous —> expressive

No laptops allowed in the class room. Students should bring pens, pencils, and enough paper to enjoy a lot of hand writing in class.



Introduction teacher, programme (content, form, aim), end work, assessment criteria.

Introduction of participants. Exploration of the concept and intuitions of ‘autobiography’; facts and fiction in narrative and life stories.

− Assignment (in class): writing source text.


Reading, discussion and analysis of the written.


Reading, discussion and analysis of the writing.

− Prep: Ursula LeGuin, ‘The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction’ (1988) in: Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromm (eds.), The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literacy Ecology, (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1996), pp. 149-154.


Lecture on concept of ‘foregrounding’ as tool for analysis. Working with the

foregrounding concept on source text.

− Prep: Roland Barthes, The Preparation of the Novel, trans. Kate Briggs, (New York: Colombia University Press, 2011), pp. 130-142.

− Assignment (in class): zoom-in and zoom-out: writing a ‘shortest novel’ or a haiku.


Presentation and discussion of last week’s assignment. Lecture on concept of ‘beginning’ in relation to writing and the production of music / art / knowledge In-class discussion based on prepared text.

Homework instruction: letter writing as tool for research.

− Prep: Edward Said, Chapter 1, ‘Beginning Ideas’ in: Beginnings: Intention and Method, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985 (1975)): pp.3-26.

− Assignment (homework): writing letter as search text (1st draft).

‘I’ & ‘MAKER’

Reading and discussion of the 1st drafts of the letters; small group feedback sessions. Lecture and discussion on the creative process from pre-research to output; different writing strategies. Homework instruction: application of different strategies to finalize the letter.

− Prep: Maya Rasker, ‘A Letter to Foucault’ in: Corina Caduff and Tan Wälcli (eds.), Artistic Research and Literature, (Zürich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2018) - forthcoming.

− Assignment (homework): writing search text (final version).


Lecture on, and discussion about theories of creativity in relation to one’s preferred language register and research topic / domain.

− Prep: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, ‘The Domain of the Word’, in: Creativity. Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, (New York: HarperCollinsPublishers, 1996), pp. 237-264.

− Assignment (in class): diagramming.

− Assignment (homework): writing goal text (1st draft).


Close reading of, and giving feedback on 1st drafts goal text.

− Assignment (homework): writing goal text (final version).


Reading of, and feedback on goal texts.

About the Tutor

After a career as creative producer in the film industry, Rasker (Málaga, 1965) turned her ambition to writing: essayism, journalism, theatre, scenario. With her prize-winning debut Unknown Destination (2000) she made her entrance in the world of literature. Her work is published in the United States, Spain, Russia, Germany, Hungaria and Turkey. In 2012 she completed her Master in Artistic Research (Universiteit van Amsterdam). The thesis, on the position of the author after publication of the work, was appreciated with cum laude. As lecturer at the Master Artistic Research in and through Cinema in Amsterdam, and other MA and BA art institutes, she designs and teaches courses on writing and (artistic) research, on the transformation of the autobiography, and on the notion of ‘the beginning’ in art production and research. She was Research Coordinator for the School of Media at the University of the Arts Utrecht from 2014-2017.

This course is part of the Art Research Programme of the Lectorate Art Theory & Practice.

For questions about the courses in the Art Research Programme, please contact Emily Huurdeman, coordinator of the lectorate, at lectoraatktp@kabk.nl.