August 27, 2008

CONTENT: a craft of poetry

This class invites you to do a series of exercises on some content area of your choice. Come to the first class with some idea you have enough commitment to keep it for the entire semester.

Requirements: Regular attendance and participation; 3 response papers to be presented in class and posted on the wiki; 4 creative/critical whatevers to be presented in class and posted on the wiki, or if not possible, summaries to be posted; 1 take home final exam to be posted on the wiki; and three other wiki posts in a topic area of your choice. Please bring the appropriate number of copies of your work to class when work is due.

Wiki: The wiki is an experiment in cross-continental conversation. We will be conversing on it with those enrolled in a graduate seminar at Temple University taught by Jena Osman. The url is Please post your response papers under the folder books. Please post your creative/critical whatevers in the same named folder. Please post your final in the same named folder. The three other posts can be in any folder. Please post at least two of these before October 20. You are highly encouraged, but not required, to do more than three posts here and to indulge in some friendly relational aesthetic talk.

September 8, introduction
Please bring some writing in the content area of your choice to the first class.

Module #1: (written) PERFORMANCE
September 15

Guillermo Gómez-Peña, “In Defense of Performance” [photocopy]


M. Nourbese Philip, She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks [WIKI]

Alice Notley, Descent of Alette [MBS; RSRV]

Susan Howe, Singularities [MBS; RSRV]

September 22 & October 6
Bring a text with performance possibilities. Make your classmates perform it for and/or with you. (Note: It will take us at least two class sessions to hear these, but all of these are due September 22.)

September 29
no class

Module #2: kind of CONCEPTUAL
(term stolen from Rob Fitterman)
October 13
This is a huge, and old, term from the art world that is starting to be used more and more in Poetry Land to describe work that uses appropriation or work that is more about idea than aesthetic or work that is procedural or....

Alain Badiou, “Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art”


Kenneth Goldsmith, I wanted to assign Day but it is currently out of print; so try and read some here instead.

Katie Degentesh, The Anger Scale [MBS; not yet on RSRV but should be]

Flarf Files

William Pope L. in Intersection, ed. Marci Nelligan and Nicole Mauro [MBS; RSRV]

Supplement with some reading on your own. Lots of material is on the internet (there was a conference recently, archive here).

RESPONSE PAPER #1: Argue or apply Badiou to any of these works/ideas. OR Bring to class a definition, your own definition although you can refer to other’s definitions, of “conceptual writing.”

October 20 & October 27
Make your own.

November 3
The examples here are endless. I’m sure you know the classic ones already, but if not do some reading around in Oulipo or Fluxus or Surrealism or …

Once you’ve got those terms in your vocabulary, read…

Nicolas Bourriaud, excerpts from Relational Aesthetics [RSRV]

Group: A Compilation Of Quotes About Collaboration From A Variety Of Sources And Practices

Hal Foster, “Arty Party” [WIKI]

RESPONSE PAPER #2: come to class with a brief presentation on an interesting collaborative project ( has an interesting and crazily inclusive list of these). Your presentation should do two things: 1. describe the project and then 2. discuss what it does, making reference to Bourriaud or Foster.

November 10 & November 17
Collaborate. I would prefer if it was with someone not in the class who works in a different media or genre. Or plan a group project.

November 24

Jacques Rancière, “The Distribution of the Sensible: Politics and Aesthetics” and “Politicized Art” in The Politics of Aesthetics

Again, there are endless examples here. I’ve assigned a few of my favorites. Try to read as many as you can.

Charles Reznikoff, Testimony [WIKI]

Muriel Rukeyser, “Book of the Dead” [MBS; RSRV; WIKI]

Claudia Rankine, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely [MBS; RSRV]

Nourbese Philip, Zong! [MBS I hope]

Rosmarie Waldrop, A Key into the Language of America [MBS; RSRV]

James Thomas Stevens, Tokinish in Combing the Snakes Through His Hair [MBS; RSRV]

RESPONSE PAPER #3: For class bring a close reading of one of these works.

December 1 & December 8
Make your own.

What are you doing with your writing and why does it matter? Should be no more than 5 double spaced pages.

If you anticipate issues related to the format or requirements of the course, please meet with me. I would like us to discuss ways to ensure your full participation in the course. If you determine that formal, disability related accommodations are necessary, it is important that you register with Office of Services for Students with Disabilities so that accommodations can be arranged for this course and your future classes here at Mills. Please call 430-2130 for an appointment.

Blog Archive