Poet as Critic
Sierra Tower 832
For his mourners
will be outcast men,
And outcasts always
Pardoned on 1/31/2017
for the crime of "gross indecency" along with
Alan Turing, and some 50,000 other gay men
whose sexuality is no longer considered criminal
by the British government.
You think your pain and your heartbreak are
unprecedented in the history of the world, but
then you read. It was books that taught me that
the things that tormented me most were the very
things that connected me with all the people who
were alive, who had ever been alive. [...] This is
why art is important. Art would not be important
if life were not important, and life is important.
[...] All art is a kind of confession, more or
less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive,
are forced, at last, to tell the whole story, to
vomit the anguish up.
Die Wissenschaft unter
der Optik des Künstlers zu sehn, die Kunst aber
unter der des Lebens. [To see Science under the
lens of Art, but Art under the lens of Life.]
Each student will do 2 assignments.
pro vita sua of yourself as an English graduate
student (reader, writer, etc.). How did you come to
literature in the first place—in
other words, why do you read, outside the
purview of a bureaucratized higher-education institution
that seems well-nigh obsessed by doing "smart things"
with literature? (One might well ask why literature
needs to have anything "done" with it in the first
place, but that would be to reveal oneself as
unmutual.) What has the "educational" experience of
being a gradutate (and/or undergraduate) student of
literature given you, not given you, even taken
from you where literature (especially poetry)
is concerned? What has been your experience with the
uses (and abuses) of literary theory, the way it has
been taught to you/the way(s) you have (not) been taught
to use it? This will be in the range of 8 pages (a
rough estimate, not meant to cause hyperventilation
issues either way), and be due via email attachment
(Word-compatible, please, as I intend to use the
margin-comment function to respond/comment) to my email
address (above) by the end of Friday, 3/16.
Option #1: An historical project—tracing
the development and continuing expressesions of a poetic
form (the alba/tagelied, the sonnet—no Shakespeare
didn't invent it, and neither did Petrarch—, the
carpe diem motif, etc.)
Option #2: an inversion of
the typical "X reading of Y" application of literary
theory ("In this paper I will demonstrate how theory X
reveals the hidden [operations of power, linguistic
tangles, various sorts of political, economic, gender,
or ethnic privilege] in poem/story/play/novel Y") by
reading a poem through/alongside the
images/concepts/structures of another poem.
For either option,
pre-provided templates are expected, and no
predetermined conclusions are particularly welcome. That
isn't thought. That is filling
out paperwork. And there is already a choking
surfeit of that kind of pseudo-activity flooding
academia, including our own local corner thereof.
Either option will be in the realm of 10-12 pages
(again, a rough, and hopefully panic-free estimate), and
will be due to me via email attachment to the
address above by the end of Friday 5/18.
1 (1/25)—Poetry as Music/Poetry as Performance
Dietmar von Aist
Peggy Lee (video), The Rolling Stones
"Sympathy for the Devil" (video). Discussion of Introduction from Robert Alter,
Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age,"
translation from Avelina Lésper
"The Fraud of Contemporary Art,", Richard Klein,
Future of Literary Criticism." Plus
Cage's 4'33" (video), Ivan
Khemnitzer "The Metaphysician," Hans Christian Andersen's
The Emperor's New
Stupid Otto scene from "A Fish Called Wanda."
the Scots Observer,
"Ye Shall Be as Gods," Sontag "Against Interpretation,"
Love and its Critics chapter 1,
selection from Milton's
Areopagitica (paragraph beginning with "I
"Hermeneutics, Literature and Being," Robert Herrick
"To the Virgins to
Make Much of Time" (1648), and Bob Dylan,
"In His Own Words: Why Bob Dylan Paints"
Week 3 (2/8)—Plato
(selections from Classical Literary Criticism
1-56), Wilde "A Fragment from the Agammemnon of
Aeschylos," (766). Speeches from the
Book of Job (1-31, 38-42) (KJV version, read online
or from a print copy of your own).
(selection from Classical Literary Criticism,
57-97), Horace (selection from Classical Literary
Criticism, 98-112), Brief discussion of
Lit Theory chart
lit theory site/summary analyses)
Sidney, The Defence of Poesy,
Astrophil and Stella #1 and #71, Stephen Gosson
"The School of Abuse."
In The School of Abuse, 1579, London:
Alexander Murray & Son, 1868, 19-54.
Week 6 (3/1)—William Blake,
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,
All Religions Are One,
There is No Natural
Religion, Percy Shelley, "Preface to Prometheus Bound,"
of Poetry, Sonnet—"Lift not the Painted Veil,"
Schiller, Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man,
"Resignation," Friedrich Nietzsche
"An Attempt at Self
Criticism" (focus on section 5).
Week 8 (3/15)—Matthew
The Function of Criticism at the Present Time,
Week 9 (3/22)—Off.
Week 10 (3/29)—Oscar
Wilde, The Decay of Lying, "Preface to Dorian Grey"
Week 11 (4/15)—Oscar
Wilde, The Critic
as Artist, Wallace Stevens,
"The Man with the Blue
Week 12 (4/12)—Oscar
Wilde, The Soul
of Man Under Socialism, and De Profundis (section on Christ,
Individualism, and the Artist 1026-1042)
Week 13 (4/19)—Leo
is Art?, Ezra Pound
pages 28-40 of ABC of Reading
(PDF), Wilde "Charmides," Neil Young
Week 14 (4/26)—Gorgias
Wimsatt & Beardsley,
Michel Foucault, Exchange of letters (17th-century)
Mehmed IV of the Ottoman empire and the Zaporozhian
Cossacks (video), Soundgarden
"Burden in My Hand"
Wilde "The Ballad of Reading Gaol," Tchaikovsky,
Lamentoso, 4th Movement from Symphony no. 6,
Week 15 (5/3)—Sontag "On
Style," Felicia Hemans
"Properzia Rossi" in
Woman, [Edinburgh: William Blackwood, 1828], 45-54),
Printable version, Lear's final speech (contrasting Folio and Quarto
editions of King Lear—distributed in class)
Week 16 (5/10)—Love and its Critics epilogue,
Nizar Qabbani (pp. 21-140), Walther von der Vogelweide
"Under den Linden"
Leadbelly, "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?"
(video), Nirvana cover of
Did You Sleep Last Night?"
(video), Fantastic Negrito cover of
"Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" (video), Catullus
5 (plus translation),
Odyssey 23:231-62, Ovid,
Elegy 1.13 "Ad Aurorum," Troubadour Alba, "En un vergier sotz fuella d’albespi"
(plus translation), John Donne,
"The Sun Rising," Wilde "Love Song," reprise of Herrick,
Virgins to Make Much of Time," The Rolling Stones,
Waits for No One (video)
(All readings will be available either
at the Campus Bookstore—specific
editions listed below—or will be distributed by the instructor
though links on this syllabus or handouts in class.)
Editor and Translator: Classical
Literary Criticism (Penguin Classics) ISBN-13:
Sir Philip Sidney: The Major Works
(Oxford) ISBN-13: 978-0199538416
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (Dover) ISBN-13:
Percy Shelley: Selected Poems and
Prose (Penguin Classics) ISBN-13: 978-0241253069
Matthew Arnold: 'Culture and Anarchy' and Other
Writings (Cambridge Texts in the History of
Political Thought) ISBN-13: 978-0521377966
Wilde: Complete Works of Oscar Wilde (Collins
Classics) ISBN-13: 978-0007144365
Against Interpretation: And Other Essays (Picador)
Friedrich von Schiller:
Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man (Penguin
Classics) ISBN-13: 978-0141396965
What is Art? (Penguin Classics) ISBN-13:
Nizar Qabbani: Journal of An
Indifferent Woman ISBN-13: 978-1508887805
Michael Bryson and Arpi Movsesian: Love and its
Critics. (Cambridge: Open Book) ISBN-13:
978-1-78374-348-3 available to
download as a free PDF (ISBN-13: 978-1-78374-350-6)