New Society of Dilettanti | The Black Merkin
Bad Romance was a crowd-sourced project managed by MA CAT alumni Laura Edbrook and Norman James Hogg under the transitory moniker New Society of Dilettanti. Edbrook and Hogg initiated the project during their writing commission for the 2010 New Work Scotland Programme at the Collective gallery in Edinburgh. The idea was to write an entire romance novel using a ‘tribal’ model of authorship.
Participants rewrote sections in the manner and style of their choosing. They received only a few basic instructions, including a request to leave all character and place names intact. Over the course of nine months, the society managed the sending, receiving and editing of texts entirely through Google docs, until the last section was returned in July 2011.
The result is The Black Merkin—a ‘new’ novel bearing little if any resemblance to the donor text. It is equally a ‘broken’ novel; the unrestrained swarm of authorial impulsions hollows out narrative structure and coherence.