Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans Marathon Reading Group
Part of the Longplayer Festival
This is an invitation to join a special one-off reading group, together exploring Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans, and the history of marathon readings of this book. Would you come and read aloud in our own ‘mini-marathon’?
Over New Year’s Eve of 1974/5 in NYC, Fluxus artist Alison Knowles, composer Annea Lockwood and Jean Rigg, manager of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, together organised a fifty-hour ‘marathon reading’ of Gertrude Stein’s novel The Making of Americans (1903-11). Initially hosted by Artists Space, it was to become an annual tradition, continuing into the 1980s at Paula Cooper Gallery: “increasingly large groups of well-known artists, unknown artists, Stein fans, SoHo residents, and passersby [would] come together to pass the New Year by listening to and reading this 925 page book.” This celebration of Stein took place at a time of notable feminist collaboration within the performance avant-garde, including the publication of the performance score magazine 'Womens Work', co-edited by Alison Knowles and Annea Lockwood.
The intention of this reading group is to read aloud/listen together to the first part of The Making of Americans in an experiment: exploring what might be at stake in making time together in our current moment for a book ‘too long to read’, as well as the book itself and its oral/aural qualities. The reading group will start with a brief introduction to the history of the book and its ‘marathon readings’, before establishing a method for reading in-turn aloud, with breaks for feedback and discussion. Once a rhythm is established we will continue reading.
The Reading Group coincides and ‘intersects’ with the Longplayer Festival – a 12-hour walk from Goldsmiths in New Cross to Trinity Buoy Wharf in Docklands, with performances and events en route. At approximately 6.15pm the walking group will reach Island Gardens via the foot tunnel, and join as listeners for 20-30 minutes. After they depart we will continue reading for another 30 minutes, aiming to read the first 100 pages in total.
Copies of the book will be provided as well as cushions, water and other refreshments/snacks. Readers would ideally join for the whole period but if you can only come for a section that's possible too.
Please get in touch if you would like to join: firstname.lastname@example.org