January 04, 2014

English 204: Craft of Poetry

Last year when we revised the craft curriculum, we designed a two semester craft sequence for first year students. This is the second semester of that. Loosely, the first semester was to be an introduction to the wide range of aesthetics and concerns that define the genre of poetry in the twentieth century so as to gift you with a fluency in the complicated ecosystem that is contemporary literature. And then the second semester was to be a chance for more indepth study of a few of these aesthetics and concerns. With that in mind, and building off the work you did last semester, we will begin this semester by reading some of more sociological concerned methods of literary analysis of recent years. After that, and keeping these methodologies in mind, we will look at three aesthetic “clusters”: movement (aka identity) poetries, conceptualism, and a lyric of political antagonism. I have chosen these clusters because they are ones that Mills graduate students frequently use, so you are encouraged to locate your work within these areas. I have designed each cluster to tell a developmental, historical story of the form. Out of this, we will discuss how literary forms are formed in response to and/or in dialogue with various socio-economic forces, how they atrophy and how we recognize this, and then how they mutate.


One demonstration.
As in use some of the critical methods that we've been discussing. Apply Moretti. Bring in a map, graph, or a tree that tells us a story of some sort about poetry. Or apply Evans. Count some prize winners. etc. (Note, I really want you to do demonstrate your ability to use the more sociological methodologies used by Moretti, Evans, DuBois, or McGurl rather than the close reading methods that someone like Berlant uses. Nothing against close reading but I am assuming you've been trained in close reading all your life, want you to try something else.) Suggested length here is 2-5 double spaced pages. Bring copies for the class.

Three presentations.
Each presentation should be two parts. Presentations are the second week of each of the clusters. Bring copies for the class. One part should be a description of what has happened. Or a historical overview. You are welcome to make these larger than the works we read in class. In fact, are encouraged to do so. This part of the presentation should draw from or enact some of the critical methodologies that should be in play by this point in the semester. Suggested length here is 2-5 double spaced pages. The second should be either a description of a possible project or an enactment of a project that illustrates something that could also happen in the form/content area/etc but has not yet been done. (Get it? First, historicize. Second, innovate.)

January 22 introduction

January 29
Franco Moretti, Maps, Graphs, and Trees 
Sebastien DuBois and Pierre Francois, “Career Paths and Hierarchies in the Pure Pole of the Literary Field: The Case of Contemporary Poetry”
Sebastien DuBois, “The French Poetry Economy: Strategies, Stakes, and Methods”

[January 30 at 7 pm at Bay Area Public School, Stephanie Young and myself will be hosting a discussion of the Weeks and Berlant texts. ]

February 5
Kathi Weeks, The problem with work: feminism, Marxism, antiwork politics, and postwork imaginaries
Introduction, Chapter 3: “Working Demands: from Wages for Housework to Basic Income," the last section of Chapter 5: "From the Manifesto to the Utopian Demand" (pp. 218-225), and the Epilogue "A Life Beyond Work."
Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism
Introduction, the first section of Chapter 6: "Always Now: Situation, Gesture, Impasse" (pp. 191-200), Chapter 7: "On the Desire for the Political," and "Note on the Cover Image: If Body: Riva and Zora in Middle Age."
Wages for Housework communiqués

February 8
Cruel Work
Mills Hall 133
12:00–1:30, Jasper Bernes and Maya Gonzalez, Wendy Trevino, Kathi Weeks
2:30–4:00, Lauren Berlant, Dawn Lundy Martin, Jackie Wang
Poetry Reading The Public School, 2141 Broadway 7:30, Jasper Bernes and Mara Gonzalez, Dawn Lundy Martin, Wendy Trevino, Jackie Wang

February 12
Steve Evans, “Field Notes: October 2003-June 2004”
Mark McGurl, The Program Era: “Art and Alma Mater: The Family, the Nation, and the Primal Scene of Instruction” and “Miniature America; or, The Program in Transplanetary Perspective”

February 19 no class//February 8 conference is substitute for this class.

February 26 no class

March 5
Demonstration due. Bring copies for the class. Be prepared to speak about.

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass 
Langston Hughes, “Negro,” and “Let America be America Again” (but these are also interesting on this topic: “America,” “Ballads of Lenin,” “The Negro Mother”)
Rudolfo Corky Gonzales, I am Joaquin 
Marilyn Chin, “How I Got That Name”
Robert Frost, “The Gift Outright”
Maya Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning”
Elizabeth Alexander, “Praise Song for the Day, Praise Song for Struggle”
Richard Blanco, “One Today”
Trisha Low, the Compleat Purge 
Nourbese Philip, Zong! 
Edwin Torres, “Neomanifestany” in The All-Union Day of the Shock Worker

[March 26 spring break]

Charles Reznikoff, excerpt from Holocaust 
Heimrad Backer, excerpt from Transcript 
Peter Weiss, the Investigation
Rob Fitterman, Holocaust Museum 
Vanessa Place, excerpt from Statement of Facts 
Mark Nowak, Coal Mountain Elementary 
Josef Kaplan, Kill List 
Stephen Collis, “Of Blackberries and the Poetic Commons”
Kenneth Goldsmith, “Towards a Poetics of Hyperrealism”
Abe Louise Young, “The Voices of Hurricane Katrina, part one” 
Raymond McDaniel, part two  

Kristin Ross, The emergence of social space: [Rimbaud and the Paris Commune] especially “Introduction” and “The Transformation of Social Space”
Rimbaud, A Season in Hell 
Gisele Sapiro, “Forms of politicization in the French literary field” 
Ronald Paulson, the Art of Riot 
David Buuck, editor, Hi Zero feature on Oakland
David Buuck, “We Are All Sound”
Jasper Bernes, We Are Nothing and So Can You [pdf]
Jasper Bernes and Joshua Clover, Götterdämmerung Family BBQ [pdf]
Joshua Clover, editor, “the Insurrectionary Turn” American Reader.
Joshua Clover and Juliana Spahr, Two Poets on Politics
Sean Bonney, “Letter on Silence”  and “Letter on Poetics”
Joshua Clover, “Georgic for the World System”
Anne Boyer, “From Occupied Kansas City
Jackqueline Frost, The Antidote
Rachel Levitsky, The Story of My Accident is Ours 
Renee Gladman, the Activist 
Stephanie Young, Ursula or the University

Thanks to Kaplan Harris for some articles!

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