|French literary history|
Oulipo (French pronunciation: [ulipo] , short for French : Ouvroir de littérature potentielle; roughly translated: "workshop of potential literature", stylized OuLiPo) is a loose gathering of (mainly) French-speaking writers and mathematicians who seek to create works using constrained writing techniques. It was founded in 1960 by Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais. Other notable members have included novelists Georges Perec and Italo Calvino, poets Oskar Pastior and Jean Lescure, and poet/mathematician Jacques Roubaud.
The group defines the term littérature potentielle as (rough translation): "the seeking of new structures and patterns which may be used by writers in any way they enjoy". Queneau described Oulipians as "rats who construct the labyrinth from which they plan to escape."
Constraints are used as a means of triggering ideas and inspiration, most notably Perec's "story-making machine", which he used in the construction of Life: A User's Manual . As well as established techniques, such as lipograms (Perec's novel A Void ) and palindromes, the group devises new methods, often based on mathematical problems, such as the knight's tour of the chess-board and permutations.
Oulipo was founded on November 24, 1960, as a subcommittee of the Collège de 'Pataphysique and titled Séminaire de littérature expérimentale.  At their second meeting, the group changed its name to Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, or Oulipo, at Albert-Marie Schmidt's suggestion.  The idea had arisen two months earlier, when a small group met in September at Cerisy-la-Salle for a colloquium on Queneau's work. During this seminar, Queneau and François Le Lionnais conceived the society. 
During the subsequent decade, Oulipo (as it was commonly known) was only rarely visible as a group. As a subcommittee, they reported their work to the full Collège de 'Pataphysique in 1961. In addition, Temps Mêlés (in French) devoted an issue to Oulipo in 1964, and Belgian radio broadcast one Oulipo meeting. Its members were individually active during these years and published works which were created within their constraints. The group as a whole began to emerge from obscurity in 1973 with the publication of La Littérature Potentielle , a collection of representative pieces. Martin Gardner helped to popularize the group in America when he featured Oulipo in his February 1977 Mathematical Games column in Scientific American.   In 2012 Harvard University Press published a history of the movement, Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature, by Oulipo member Daniel Levin Becker. 
Oulipo was founded by a group of men in 1960 and it took 15 years before the first woman was allowed to join; this was Michèle Métail who became a member in 1975 and has since distanced herself from the group.   Since 1960 only six women have joined Oulipo,   with Clémentine Mélois last to join in June 2017. 
Some examples of Oulipian writing:
Some Oulipian constraints: 
The founding members of Oulipo represented a range of intellectual pursuits, including writers, university professors, mathematicians, engineers, and "pataphysicians":
Georges Perec was a French novelist, filmmaker, documentalist, and essayist. He was a member of the Oulipo group. His father died as a soldier early in the Second World War and his mother was killed in the Holocaust. Many of his works deal with absence, loss, and identity, often through word play.
Raymond Queneau was a French novelist, poet, critic, editor and co-founder and president of Oulipo, notable for his wit and cynical humour.
Jacques Roubaud is a French poet, writer and mathematician.
Ouxpo is an acronym for "Ouvroir d'XPotentielle". It is an umbrella group for Oulipo, Oubapo, Outrapo, etc. The term 'ouvroir', originally used in conjunction with works of charity, was reused by Raymond Queneau for a blend of 'ouvroir' and 'œuvre' ("work") and roughly corresponds to the English 'workshop'. The term 'potentiel' is used in the sense of that "which is possible, or realisable if one follows certain rules".
Harry Mathews was an American writer, the author of various novels, volumes of poetry and short fiction, and essays. Mathews was also a translator of the French language.
François Le Lionnais was a French chemical engineer and writer. He was a co-founder of the literary movement Oulipo.
Hervé Le Tellier is a French writer and linguist, and a member of the international literary group Oulipo. He is its fourth president. Other notable members have included Raymond Queneau, Georges Perec, Italo Calvino, Jacques Roubaud, Jean Lescure and Harry Mathews. He won the 2020 Prix Goncourt for The Anomaly.
Florence Delay is a French academician and actress.
Ian Monk is a British writer and translator, based in Paris, France.
Oubapo is a comics movement which believes in the use of formal constraints to push the boundaries of the medium. OuBaPo is styled after the French literary movement Oulipo, founded by Raymond Queneau and Georges Perec. Oubapo was founded in November 1992 in the Ou-X-Po and announced in L'Association's French comics edition.
Paul Fournel is a French writer, poet, publisher, and cultural ambassador. He was educated at the École normale supérieure of Saint-Cloud (1968–1972). Fournel wrote his master's thesis on Raymond Queneau and published the first book-length study of the Oulipo, Clefs pour la littérature potentielle. He joined the Oulipo, first as "slave," then as full member, and he currently serves both as the Provisionally Definitive Secretary and the President of that group. He is also a regent of the College of 'Pataphysics.
Jacques Jouet is a French writer and has been a participating member of the Oulipo literary project since 1983.
Jean-Christophe Menu is a French underground cartoonist, graphic designer, comics scholar and publisher, son of the Egyptologist Bernadette Menu. He is best known for being one of the founders of L'Association, an influential comic book and art book publishing company from France often regarded as one of the key figures in the independent comic movement around the world.
Michèle Audin is a French mathematician, writer, and a former professor. She has worked as a professor at the University of Geneva, the University of Paris-Saclay and most recently at the University of Strasbourg, where she performed research notably in the area of symplectic geometry.
Daniel Levin Becker is an American writer, translator and musical critic.
Anne Françoise Garréta is a French novelist and a member of the experimental literary group Oulipo. She is the first member of Oulipo to be born after the group's founding. Her awards include the Prix Médicis.
Marcel Bénabou is a French writer and historian.
Jacques Bens was a French writer and poet.
La Bibliothèque oulipienne is a collection that hosts the works of the individual and collective members of the Oulipo. The short texts that compose them form a fabrique of playful literary creations.
"Portez ce vieux whisky au juge blond qui fume" is a French language pangram, that is, a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet. It is also an alexandrine.