Writing Ugly

  • Melody Ellis


Hélène Cixous has described the act of writing as becoming “a thing with pricked-up ears.” She describes doing this work at night: “night becomes a verb. I night.” By turning ugliness into a verb, as Cixous does with night-time, this chapter considers what it might mean “to ugly” when writing. It explores the experience of inhabiting unsettling, resistant, anxious, uncomfortable—in other words “ugly”—spaces whilst writing. It makes a case for the value of encounters with the ugly in one’s writing practice and how abiding with, or deliberately turning towards such is not only a sound method of working but provides an important counter narrative to the social drive to rid ourselves of the unpleasant. It asks: What is “ugly” writing? What does it mean “to ugly” in the context of writing? And in what ways might considering ugliness as part of one’s writing practice enable a renewed thinking about what it is to write? Drawing on philosophy, psychoanalysis, and literature, this chapter makes a case for the veracity of ugliness—not only politically but also as a methodology or practice.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melody Ellis
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Media and CommunicationRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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