Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Quackenbos 566 Project

In 1854 George Payn Quackenbos published his Advanced Course of Composition and Rhetoric: A Series of Practical Lessons. Offered as something of a more advanced follow-up to his First Lessons in Composition, a chief aim or goal of this text has to do with offering the “pupil” a “comprehensive and practical view of our language in all its relations” while providing him “with the most philosophical method of digesting and arranging his thoughts, as well as the most correct and effective mode of expressing them” (5). Of particular interest to me is the extensive “List of Subjects” Quakenbos offers at the end of the text. The 566 subjects offered are grouped into six categories: Parallels; Historical Narratives; Biographical Sketches; Fiction; Essays, and Argumentative Discourses. While Quackenbos’ subject list was clearly intended to be the basis of, or inspiration behind, written (alphabetic) compositions, the list re-presents for me another kind of potential or challenge. To this end, my goal with The Quackenbos 566 Project is to try to work through Quackenbos’ extensive list of subjects, taking a photograph (or choosing from among those I have already taken) that responds to each item contained in his subject list.

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