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A Morphology of Method

All discourses on method, including this essay, share a common set of elements. Ulmer identifies them as:

CATTt, therefore, constitutes a morphology of method analogous to V. I. Propp's morphology of the folktale. It is both hermeneutically and heurestically adequate, useful for both interpretation and invention.

But CATTs, while rigorous, are seldom exciting. (Then again, excitement isn't everything. Some of the avant garde's most interesting results have been generated by tedious, boring methods: for example, recall that Cage's signature experiment--writing through books by constructing "mesostics" on the author's name--yielded both poetry and music.)

Excitement, if that's what we're looking for--and, believe me, that's what we're looking for!--lies in the tale that dramatizes what the discourse on method recommends. Ulmer observes that every method--from dialectics to surrealism--"must itself be represented in some form or genre." Complete theories (fully developed CATTs) can be generated by choosing tales first and, then, by imagining the learning experiences appropriate to them (1994: 8-9).

Mystory is Ulmer's coinage for the emerging experimental genre--the CATT's tale--that dramatizes contemporary heuretics. To find out more about it, see: