English 69 / Comparative Literature 69
Echopoetics: A Brief History of Poetry from Sappho, Blake, and Baudelaire to Stein, Morris, and Scalapino
Charles Bernstein <charles.bernstein ***@ *** english.upenn.edu>
Dixon Li, teaching assistant <dixonli *** @ *** sas.upenn.edu>
•Caroline Bergvall, Drift -- from SPD (or other sources). Check Penn Book Center first.
•Tracie Morris, Handholding: Five Ways: Get this books from (and support) the press or other sources.
•Charles Bernstein, Near/Miss -- will be out in October and you can get at Penn Book Center. Note: Book Launch at Penn Book Center on Nov. 14 at 6pm.
Requirements: go to this link
Discussion list (please subscribe): Re-Wreading
Please email me immediately if you find a bad link.
Note: English 269 and English 288 –– 20th Century American Poetry — English 262 (post-1975) and English 62 are companion courses.
The syllabus is a work in progress and subject to change.
"Echopoetics" will focus on several poems at each meeting. This will allow for a wide-ranging discussion of the politics of poetic form and the possibilities for aesthetic invention. A number of poems will be read in translation and some focus will be given the art of translation. No previous experience with poetry is required but rather a willingness to think with the poems and with each other. Weekly assignments will include posted journal responses and “wreading” experiments. Part swan song, part panegyric, this will be the last undergraduate class I will teach at Penn.
1. (Aug. 28) Introduction
if you are able to take a look at these images before our first meeting, great, but no problem if you can't.
The Cave of Chauvet-Pont-D'Arc
Hand prints from Castillo, Spain
Virtual Lascaux (c15,000bce): wiki, proto-icon (and context); red dots; inscription
Engraved Petroglyphs from Lianyungang (c.3000bce) (Penn only);
Charles Lock, "Petroglyphs in and of perspective," Semiotica 100-2/4, 405-420(1994); abstract
Henri Breuil, Four Hundred Centuries of Cave Art.
Andre Leroi-Gourhan, Treasures of Prehistoric Art.
______, The Dawn of European Art: An Introduction to Paleolithic Cave Painting.
Georges Bataille, Lascaux; or, the Birth of Art: Prehistoric Painting.
A timline with special reference to the invention of writing:
2. (Sept. 4) Two case studies of the poetics of translation: Classical Chinese poetry and Indigenous poetry
Yunte Huang, SHI
"River Merchant's Wife" Cathay / Ezra Pound (1915) after 李白 -- Li Po / Li Bai (8th century CE): (via Genius) and in early printed edition via Google Books, & wiki version
Chinese source poem and alt. translations. A related site.
Commentaries on "River Merchant's Wife" (Ok to skim! But do read Wai-Lim Yip)
Three short "sounds" works from Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania,ed. Jerome Rothenberg (1968): Aboriginal, Shaker, Navaho
Frances Densmore (1867-1957) Chippewa and other native American songs
Rexroth selection of songs: #1, #2; Rexroth on American Indian songs (1956); more Densmore here
Densmore digital books; catalog of recording -- see pdf
LOC Cylinder recording
"Manubus tells the ducks"; audio
Ojibwe via YouTube
& Folkways record (not available on-line)
from Shaking the Pumpkin:
(1): Four Poems for Coyote (Simon Ortiz)
(3) Poems for the Game of Silence (Ojibwe and Mandan)
(4) Wishing Bone Cycle (Swampy Cree)
(7): Schwerner Variations
"Total translation" via Jerome Rothenberg
On "Horse Songs" and total translation: essay & short MP3
The 13th Horse Song of Frank Mitchell (4:53): MP3
from The First Horse Song of Frank Mitchell: 4-Voice Version (3:30): MP3
Discuss the different approaches to translation suggested by the readings as well as the different ways these translations are presented, both print, audio, and digital.
>Using the poem profiler, respond to one (or more) of the works in detail.
>What do the summaries of the meaning of the Li Po poem miss: in other words, what is the poem doing beyond the paraphrase? Contrast versions.
>Echo/Wreading: Write your own transcreation (creative translation) of Li Po's 長干行 (Chánggān Xíng), using the Chinese original. To get started, use this version of the Chinese, with its literal translations of copy and past to a translation engine. A digital version of the poem is here. Comment on your work.
3. (Sept. 11) Hebrew Bible
Psalm 104 (c. 6th century BCE or later):
Blue Letter Bible version and tools (with Hebrew word-for-word, and Septuagint, early Greek tr.)
King James Version (KJV) & toggle for other versions;
Robert Alter translation: PDF
Norman Fischer: pdf (from Opening to You: Zen-Inspired Translations of the Psalms ) (2002)
Nissim Ezekiel: pdf
Song of Songs (shiyr hashiyrim) (4th/5th BCE):
Blue Letter w/ tools
KJB and Revised Standard (toggle for others). Note: New KJV designates the speakers, e.g., "Shulamite" and "Beloved"
Chana and Ariel Bloch contemporary translation; note Alter's comparative translations in the beginning of his afterword.
Marcia Falk contemporary tr.
Chanted with text
Paul Celan (& Gale bio): "Todesfuge" (Death Fugue) Rothenberg tr. , audio (with German) & commentary; wiki
•Have you read any of these works before? If so, in what context and, if so, does reading here change the works for you?
•In translation and textual theory, there is much discussion of the concept of the "original" but this issue has special status in respect to Bible translations. Some say that there is no "original" only versions, that the original is a kind of ontological fiction. Others see textual editions and translations as possible corruptions. What is the original in this case?
•As discussed last week, what happens to the Biblical works when removed from their "original" contexts and read as litertature or in terms of the poetics of translation. The Bible has been read mostly in translation: do some of the concerns about "original" and translation change in this context? To clarify: by reading Psalm 104 in a secular frame, I didn’t mean only how one might interpret the poem in a non-religious way but what it means to read a religious poem like this in the secular space of the classroom.
•Compare the translations. Delineate as many differences as you can? An easy way to start, compare Fischer's "Zen" version to KJV (King James) and Ezekiel's commentary. Or compare Alter's new, scholarly version to KJV.
•Discuss the novel web formats, allowing multiple translations and comparisions with original.
•Do your own translation/transcreations,: literal, figurative, free or wreading. Comment on your work.
•Discuss who is addressed in each set of poems and ways that might be reframed. In religious readings, both sets of poems are possibly addressed to God. "Song of Songs" as an allergorically of God's relation to Israel. What might be secular readings? In the psalm, the Hebrew uses the name, Yĕhovah (YHWH / י ה ו ה), while many translations say "Lord" (or a varient, for example HaShem, meaning "the name").
•Discuss Celan's (and Rothenberg's) "echoes" in "Todesfugue": the figure of the Shulamite from the "Song of Songs" (the protagonist) appears at the end of "Todesfugue" (see commentary) just as this figures is named in 6:13 of "Song of Songs"
4. (Sept. 18) Greek to Me
respondent: Deena, Rachel, Ella, Caitlin
Millman Parry, "The Historical Method": pdf
Homer, The lliad (c. 800 BCE): for the purpose of this class, just the first 30 lines is required.
John Dryden (1700)
Alexander Pope (1713-1720)
Cowper/Southey (1837) (content navigation upper right, 3 horizontal lines)
Perseus Greek/Butler (1898) (you can toggle versions and to the Greek: spend some time testing the site features)
Loeb Murray tr. (1924) (do a search!): ; also here
Chart of Homer translations: if you expand the extracts you get the opening passage of all theIliad translations
: David Melnick, Men in Aida (homophonic translation, that is, it follows the sound), first stanzas. Complete book I here, book II here.
Sappho (5th/6th c BCE)
Fragment 16, tr. Thomas McEvilley: wiki; Loeb, tr. David A. Campbell (search & to p. 66)
multiple comparative translation
: Sarah Dowling, Entering Sappho: pdf
& Dowling's reading of the pamphlet at KWH, Jan. 20, 2018 –– first video on her PennSound page, starts at 7'45"
Further reading (optional):
Heraklitus (c. 500 BCE): fragments
Guy Davenport tr.
Heraclitus web with Greek text (& John Burnet tr.)
G.W.T. Patrick tr. 1889 bilingual with sources
William Harris tr.
What are Parry's main points and how does this complicate your reading in the class so far?
Give a paraphrase of what is happeining in the opening passage of the Ilead. (Check out the Spark notes on the passage or Shmoop or a higher leve precis here.) What is misisng from these summaries? Write your own version of the story, the prologue, perhaps updating to present (as an adaption loosely based on the story)
Compare opening passage in the different translations: how do they change the paraphrase? Discuss the different web sites / presentations. Address the wide array of translations over the centurys.
What do you make of the Melnick? What is the importance of sound verse lexical or thematic meaning? How does the Melnick read on its own, without reference to Homer?
Compare Sappho 16 translations. Which do you like the best?
Do a homophonic translation (sound-alike, like Melnick) of Sappho, based on McEvilley's reading or use this transliteration and sounding (below the Greek). Comment on your work.
How does Dowling echo Sappho? Compare the difference in hearing her at PennSound versus reading the pamphlet.
Write your own version or wreading of Homer or Sappho.
Tues., Sept. 25, 6pm, at Kelly Writers House (KWH): David Bromige book launch
5. (Sept. 25) Latin Beat: Catullus & Virgil
respondent: James, Anthony
Catullus (84-54 BCE)
: Catullus translation sampler
reference: Perseus edn
: Echologs, Bernstein and Richard Tuttle & comparative translations
Further Reading (optional):
Lucretius (99-44 BCE)
De Rerum Natura Chapter 2, lines 1-332 (optional: go to line 729):
Mellville tr of ch. 2 (I recommend starting with this); review of this tr.
Further Reading (optional):
Perseus: bilingual; toggle top English on upper right for William Elory Leonard tr.; links to English
Loeb: W.H.D Rouse tr. (1924) revised by M.F. Smith
William Mallock's 1900 adaption (note opening here is beg. of book 2)
Martin Ferguson Smith (1969): prose; see intro and outline of themes preceding each book.
Stallings tr. ch. 2, 1-332
John Selby Watson, prose, and John Mason G ood verse (1851)
H. A. .J. Munroe (1866/1891) (prose); Latin
Cyri Baily Latin edn (1922)
Henri Bergson, Extraits de Lucrèce, Paris, Delagrave (1884); English tr. The Philosphy of Poetry
George Santayana, Three Philosophical Poets (1910)
Comment on the various translations of Catullus and Virgil. What are the different values of the translations? State your preferences. Profile one poem of Catullus and one of Virgil and discuss: do the different translation profile differently.
Do you own translation or wreading of one or more poem or fragment of a poem, using the provided translations and a dictionary or translation engine. Comment on the results.
On the optional Lucretius reading -- re: Stephen Greenblatt's prose synopsis of key points from Swerve (2012): what is the difference between this paraphrase and the poem? Is this the heresy of paraphrase.
6. (Oct. 2) Medieval Excursus: Cavalcanti and "The Seafarer"
Cavalcanti (Italian, c. 1250-1300):
respondent: Jessica, David, Talia
: Donna Mi Prega: Ezra Pound and Lous Zukofsky versions
"The Seafarer" (Anglo-Saxon, c. 10th century): see list of translations especially hypertext one: bilingual; multiple
audio of old English via YouTube
: Required book -- Drift
by Caroline Bergvall from SPD (or other sources). Check Penn Book Center; see this web excerpt; & video of performance
Ezra Pound's version, 1911: audio (with drums) (7:08): MP3; text 
Compare the multiple translations of "Donna mi prega" and "The Seafarer." Using the Poem Profiler, delineate the differentce. Bergvall uses "The Seafarer" as a poem that speak to our current crisis of migrants and refugees: does thie work for you?
Wreading: Create your own versions, not via translation: write a contemporary poem adapted from parts or the whole of these poems.
7. (Oct. 9) Blake
respondent: Arundati, Rachel
Songs of Innocence (1789) and Experience (1794) (note there are several versions of this book & here is the Guttenberg text version)
COPY T and COPY B (scroll down for list of each page/poem; try "enlargement" and other views)
Innocence: Introduction, The Shepherd, The Lamb, The Chimney Sweep, The Divine Image, Nurse's Song
Experience; Introduction, Nurse's Song, The Sick Rose, The Garden of Love, London, The Human Abstract
Grey Monk & ms
Jerusalem (1804, preface to Milton)
Ginsberg Sings Blake
•Bernstein reads "The Grey Monk" for the Romantic Circles: MP3 / text
•"Jerusalem" sung by boys choir at London Olympics opening ceremony (starts at 1'12")
•PoemTalk Podcast #4: a discussion of Ginsberg's recording of "The Garden of Love," featuring Al Filreis, Charles Bernstein, Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Jessica Lowenthal: MP3
Compare different Blake versions of the "same" poem: are they the same? Compare to plain text transcriptions (called "Diplomatic" transcription in the web archive). For "Grey Monk" compare the holograph (handwritten ms). What doe the visual dimension add (or take away). How about Ginsberg's settings or my reading?
What is Blake's sense of "echo" in "The Nurses Song": "The little ones leaped, and shouted, and laughed, / And all the hills echoèd."
What is the "human abstract"? What is making the "rose" sick? What are the politics and aesthetics/poetics of "The Grey Monk"? What changes when one reads "Jerusalem" in context as opposed to as a hymn or hears it in the Olympics opening ceremony. Pick one poem of innocence and one of experience and contras the themes of innocence and experience in each: what is meant by those terms, how to the poems exemplify each term?
Address these poems in the context of the previous reading.
Pick one of the wreading experiments and apply to Blake. Comment on the result.
8. (Oct. 16) Emily Dickinson / Susan Howe
respondent: Arundati, Yoni
"I would not paint a picture" (1866-67): Johnson version with variants
"A Certain Slant of Light" (1866-67): cp first published version (after reading versions in "Transcriptions")
"By homely gift" [bottom of page; Miller version is the same] (c. 1883); fan site; holograph
"I cannot not Live with You" (Miller version) (1862) Johnson version; & 1924 edn [note unauthorized changes!], holograph
: Susan Howe, "These Flames and Generosities of the Heart: Emily Dickinson and the The Illogic of Sumptuary Values" from The Birth-Mark
Howe's My Emily Dickinson: excerpt
Howe & Werner on PBS News Hour on March 8, 2017
Al Filreis and ModPo go to the Morgan show: video
Sea and Spar Between by Nick Montfort and Stephanie Strickland
Jean Osman, reading as X, from "An Essay in Asterisks": pdf [this 1871 poem was send by ED to Higginson], see holographs at Harvard on-line archive]
ED Random Epigram generator (refresh to get new epigram)
Do your own deformance; do your own transcription. Or rearrange/cut-up material from this week's reading to create your own poems. Comment on the result.
Discuss the transcription/standardization issues raised by the reading.
Use the poem profiler to discuss one of the assigned ED poems.
DIscuss the deformances/echoes.
Further ED reading (optonal):
Marta Werner's "Radical "Scatters"; Dickinson fragments web site
Jen Bervin, Marta Werner, The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope-Poems: extracts & see images here
Amherst College collection (digital versions of all their holographs, including the envelope poems)
Harvard open access ED Archive [note the download feature]
Amherst ED archive.
2016 new edition of poems (Cristanne Miller)
Guttenberg Project edition (Todd/Higginson first publication in three series) (series one, Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1890), series two, 1901, at Google Books)Little Brown 1924 edn; Barteby's Bianchi 1924 edn
Johnson 1954 edn via Archive.org
Complete Poems (Johnson) in one html file (without varients) (restricted acces) (very large file)
Wiki version of complete poems
1889 review of poems in The Nation.
Weds., Oct. 17, Rae Armantrout at KWH, 6pm
Thurs., Oct. 18, Disability Poetics one-day conference
Mon., Oct. 23 Douglas Kearney at KWH, 6pm
9. (Oct. 23) A Balm in Gilead: Slave Songs / Sorrow Songs / African-American Spirituals & the Aesthetics of Versions.
respondent: Charles, Emily, (& Jackson for Morris)
"Little of beauty has America given the world save the rude grandeur God himself stamped on her bosom; the human spirit in this new world has expressed itself in vigor and ingenuity rather than in beauty. And so by fateful chance the Negro folk-song—the rhythmic cry of the slave—stands to-day not simply as the sole American music, but as the most beautiful expression of human experience born this side the seas. It has been neglected, it has been, and is, half despised, and above all it has been persistently mistaken and misunderstood; but notwithstanding, it still remains as the singular spiritual heritage of the nation and the greatest gift of the Negro people." -- W.E.B. Du Bois (1868–1963), "Sorrow Songs" in The Soul of Black Folk (1903)
Frederick Douglass on song
LOC intro to Spirituals
The Books of the American Negro Spirituals by James Weldon Johnson, J. Rosamond Johnson (with music) (1940): preface
Frederick Douglass on Juba; contermporary version "patting juba."
Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Seduction (pp. 35-36):
...Yet as Douglass remarked, these seemingly meaningless and incoherent songs, though difficult for those outside and within the circle of slavery to understand revealed more about the horrors of the institution than did volumes of philosophy. While I will undertake a more extensive discussion of the politics of cultural production later. here let me stress the complexity and opacity of black song and the difficulty of clarifying, with any degree of certainty or assuredness, the politics of slave song and performance when dissolution and redress collude with one another and terror is yoked to enjoyment. This investigation, following the path laid by Douglass and W. E. B. DuBois, turns upon the veiled and half-articulate messages contained in song, Of, to quote Paul Gilroy, the politics of a lower frequency and the "unsayable claims to truth" that can never be communicated. Hence my task is neither to unearth the definitive meaning of song or dance nor to read song as an expression of black 'character as was common among nineteenth century ethnographers but to give full weight to the opacity of these texts wrought by toil, terror, and sorrow, and composed under the whip and in fleeting moments of reprieve, Rather than consider black song as an index or mirror of the slave condition, this examination emphasizes the significance of opacity as precisely that which enables something in excess of the orchestrated amusements of the enslaved and which similarly troubles distinctions between joy and sorrow and toil and leisure. For this opacity, the subterranean and veiled character of slave song must be considered in relation to the dominative imposition of transparency and the degrading hypervisibility of the enslaved, and therefore, by the same token, such concealment should be considered a form of resistance. Furthermore, as Glissant advises, "the attempt to approach a reality so hidden from view cannot be organized in terms of a series of clarifications.' '62 The right to obscurity must be respected, for the "accumulated hurt," the" rasping whispers deep in the throat, " the wild notes, and the screams lodged deep within confound simple expression and, likewise, withstand the prevailing ascriptions of black enjoyment.
Saidiya Hartman on Juba -- chapter 2 of Scenes of Seduction: p. 221 (note): Although Douglass emphasizes the critique of slavery embodied in the juba song, as he had stressed the tone of protest in the spirituals, and evaluated the song as "not a bad summary of the palpable injustice and fraud of slaver," he remained uncomfortable with the pleasures afforded the enslaved, for he was convinced that the pleasures enjoyed within the limits of slavery were simply means of "keeping down the spirit of insurrection." Douglass was unable to envision the pleasures afforded by dances, time off, and slave holidays as little more than "part and parcel of the gross wrongs and inhumanity of slavery" designed to better "secure the ends of injustice and oppression." Douglass, Life and Times, 146-147.
Here are a few of the best known of the perhaps 6000 songs/poems of African-American slaves that have been recorded and which constitute a significant portion of the poetry of the 19th century in America:
•"Swing, Low, Sweet Chariot" (wiki): Jubilee Singers, Tuskegee, & sheet music (1881); Marion Willams gospel version, Roland Hayes (1955), Paul Robeson, Eric Clapton. Extensions: the strange afterlife of this song in UK rugby: NY Times (3/7/17). See also "Swing Down Sweet Charriot" Dr. Dre, "Let Me Ride" (cf: Golden Gate Quartet, Presley, Parliament's "Mother Ship Connection"
•"Never Said a Mumblin Word": +++ (text also in Johnson, who has one additional line in the chorus: "Not a word-not a word-not a word"): 1938 Parchman Farm / State Penn (Lomax; no audio): audio, Anderson, Leadbelly, Golden Gate Quartet
•"Oh, Mary": Jubilee Singers: wiki, lyircs, Lomax, Leadbelly, Swan Silvertones, Mississippi John Hurt, Arthea Franklin, Bruce Spingsteen
•"Nobody Knows the Trouble I See": wiki, Jubillee, Anderson, Robeson, Sam Cook
•"Deep River": Jubilee, Tuskegee: wiki; sheet music, Jessie Norman, Anderson, Robeson, Mahalia Jackson, James Cleveland, Johnny Mathis, Bobbie Womack, Odetta, instrumental: Archie Shepp
•"Go, Down, Moses" Tuskegee (1914):wiki, Big Mama Thornton, Robeson, Anderson, Armstrong
•"There Is a Balm in Gilead": Jubilee, Wiki, see #64 here (1853), Robeson
•"Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child": Clifford Reed / Lomax, Anderson, Mahalia Jackson, Robeson, Richie Havens at Woodstock, Odetta. Little Jimmy Scott, Jeanne Lee
•"We Art Climbing Jacob's Ladder": Robeson, Bernice Johnson Regan, Peter Seeger, Bruce Springsteen
•"Lay dis Body Down" (1960, SC): text (and quoted by Higginson and Johnson), Marion Williams gospel trancreation. Compare: Johnny Cash, "Ain't No Grave"
•"Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" Gospel version by Marion Williams
•"Where You There": text., Hayes, WIlliams
*"Every Time I Feel the Sprit": Hayes, Mahalia Jackson, Nat King Cole, Little Richard
•Oh, Freedom: Sankofa, Bernie Sanders; 1931 version; Odetta
•"De Gospel Train" (Get on Board, Little Children): Williams, [TRIGGER WARNING} Shirley Temple, from Dimples [Uncle Tom's Cabin sequence] (1936), Robeson
•Steal Away (wiki): Fisk Jubilee Singers, 1902 (Dinwiddie Quartet), Tuskegee, Jackson with Nat King Cole (TV 1957), Robeson, Sam Cook (pop hit), Harry Belafonte, Mavis Staples, Wilson Pickett, National Taiwan U
•"Oh , Wasn't Dat a Wide Ribber" (text in JW Johnson intro below): Fisk Jubille (starts 1:35), Anderson
Work shouts (recorded by Alan Lomax):
Take Dis Hammer
Water Boy (see JW Johnson's discussion); pdf of sheet music; Robeson (1935); Odetta; birht of blues: John Lee Hooker (Spotify); lyrics
Cotton picking song,
Pick a Bail of Cotten
Cotton Needs Plowin' So Bad|
Lomax prison recordings
Darien, GA songs
Bessie Jones / Sea Islands GA: "Daniel in the Lion's Den" recorded by Alan Lomax in 1960, "Sheep, Sheep" & Jones's commentary on song
: Sam Cook, "Chain Gang" and Tracie Morris, "Chain Gang"
:Make transcriptions. Would any of you see or would a group of you sing one or more of these songs in class? Please let me know.
•JW Johson mentions the difficulty of Western/classical singers performing sprituals (lacking "soul") -- and issue that comes up later in terms of the right to sing the blues, to quote the title of the Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler song. Johnson does commend two singes: Robeson and Roland Hayes. Hayes, "Go Down Moses" (1922) and Robeson doing the same song, much later. Robeson put the songs into an international repetoire (with folks songs from many countries as well as "classical" music songs, that contextualizes the sung poems of enslaved African-Americans as "art songs," while they are otherwise sung in religious, folk, soul, pop, and jazz contexts. Comment!
•Discuss the Sam Cook and Tracie Morris versions of the work song.
•Were you familiar with any of these works? The works are created through analphabetic (oral) culture rather than a writing culture. Does this connect them more with Western writing, as we have looked at it so far in this course, or with the writings of people in cultures without writing, such as indigenous people in the Americas, or African people, or the early Greeks of the time the Homeric epics were being composed on the tongue? One characteristic of poetry in analphabetic cultures is the use of parallelism, repetition of whose phrases or lines rather than end or rhyming words. discuss this feature. What is the connection of these songs/lyrics to poetry? What is the connection of this work to the vernacular or spoken language (as opposed to literary diction and style)? The songs and chants are not necessarily accompanied by music, the tunes and rhythm arises from the words rather than being set to a tune. Comment on the Douglass's account of the songs. The lyrics of these works may also be recognized as (oral) poems (of a people without access to writing) and so considering they consitute the largest body of pre-20th century American lyrics: what happens when we think of the lyrics of these works as poems as well as songs? JW Johnson says the songs have dignity and nobility: discuss this way of presenting the songs. In what sense to they seem religious or spiritual, in what sense political or protest, in what sense folk music, in what sense lamentation or elegy? Discuss the choral elements: do the sorrow songs speak from an individual lyric voice or a group voice? Who is the "I" in the songs? How about the work songs -- how do they work in terms of call and response, dialogue, individual and group. Discuss the beat and rhythm in these works. How do the Spirituals change/adapt their Biblical sources? Loaded question!: In the second half of the 19th century, there was a debate about whether the songs were American literature or something distinct and apart from that: comment.
Oct.30 at 6pm KWH: Norbert Lange, bilingual reading, I will host
10. (Oct. 30) Baudelaire / Scalapino
respondent: Deena, Caitlin, James
Charles Baudelaire (LION):
À une Mendiante Rousse" (1845-6),
"La Muse Vénale" (1857)
______ "Be Always Drunken" tr. Arthur Symons, a contemporary of Dowson (cf.: O'Neill quotes in Long Day's Journey into Night; along with ref. to Dowson: YouTube), "Be Drunken" tr. Bernstein
: Leslie Scalapino, "Bum Series"(from Way): audio
LINEbreak at PennSound
Use Poem Profiler on Baudelaire and Scalapino
• What is Baudelaire's attitude toward the "muse vénale" (the venal muse) and to the "mendiante rousse" (red-haired beggar)? Does he objectify them, is he sympathetic, empathetic? In what way are these poem "modern" (subject matter? form? attitude?) How does Scalapino approach the "bum": compare to Baudelaire.
•Which translations do you like best, least & why?
•The first line of Baudelaire's "À Mendiante Rousse" is "Blanche fille aux cheveux roux." The literal word for word translation would be "White girl with hair red." Here are some of the choices the translators made: Pale redhead, Palish girl with reddish hair, Pale red-headed girl, Pale girl with fiery hair, Pale red-haired girl, White girl with red hair. Discuss!
• Why does Eugene O'Neill quote Baudelaire in the last act of Long Day's Journey into Night. Is Baudelaire a "decadent" poet? What would Baudelaire have represented in 1912, as in the play? See O'Neill excerpt here.
•Compare listening versus reading Scalapino.
•Compose one question for the seminar, based on the reading.
•Try a homophonic translation, in the manner of Melnick, of Baudelaire (see experiments list #2). Comment on the result.
11. (Nov. 6) Stein/ Morris
Respondent: Yoni, Jessica, Ella
Gertrude Stein: When This You See Remember Me: pf:
Tender Buttons (1914) [Gutenberg complete] at 100, also: free Kindle, via print edition from Green Integer or Green Integer e-book; compare new Colin Sackett design (download pdf)
: Required Book: Tracie Morris, Handholding: Five Ways :
Stein section (text and audio) plus my foreword.
Get this books from SPD (if in stock). Here are the relevant audio tracks:
Further listening (optional): My Close Listening conversation with Morris.
Discuss Morris's "handholding" with Stein: what is going on? How does it work. Contrast the written and performed versions. Read this article by Harryette Mullen on Stein's use of black vernacular and come back to this question: Mullen on Wright.
•Does it make a difference in your reading/listening to Sappho, Dickinson, Stein, Morris, Howe, or Scalapino that they are woman? Do you feel this set of names suggests a literary lineage?
•In Stein's Tender Buttons, what are the possible meanings of the title? Why is the section called "objects"? Why is the poem written in a prose format?
•Use the parts of the poem profiler on one of the sections of Tender Buttons to aid you assessing the form and tone
•Is this work (Stein and Morris) absorptive or does it disrupt the reader's absorption?
•Wreading: Write a poem using only the vocabulary in Stein or Morris: rearrange and refigure. Translate Stein or Morris into standard thematic English, as if these works were written in a foreign language. Do an N+7 exercise on one of the sections of Stein or Morris: #13 in the Wreading Experiments. Comment on your work.
12. (Nov. 13) Schwitters / Morris
Respondent: David, Talia
Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948), "Ur Sonata"
Velimir Khlebnikov (1885-1922), "Incantation by Laughter"(my tr.) and see also alt. translation and Roman Jakobson reading on the Khlebnikov PennSound page
: Tracie Morris's "Resonata" from Handholding
3. Re-Sonate/Ursonate (41:14): MP3. Morris's "Re-Sonate," her improvised collaboration or "handholding" with Ernst Schwitters's recording of Kurt Schwitters's "Ursonate." In this two-track recording, Schwitters's recording is aligned with Morris's. So this is different than the recordings that accompany the book, 1 & 2 above.
• It is reported that when Schwitters first performed this, some in the audience wept? How is this possible? Is this work conceptual, intellectual, or visceral? Run the poetry profiler on the work.
• Do you see this as a work attacking "sense" (in a Dadaist way? otherwise?) or making a new kind of sound-sense?
• Has poetry gone too far with this? Is this even poetry? If this is poetry, how would you define a poem? If not, what is this? Why isn't it music? (or is is music?)
• Compare the performed versions of the "Ur Sonata."
•Discuss Tracie Morris's echoing of Schwitters. You can hear a recording of Ernst Schwitter's version in the background: what is she doing? How does it change the poem?
Wreading: Create a sound poem. If you have a sound editor: remix the Schwitters or Morris sound files. Record or rehearse your own version of the "Ur Sonata." Do your own echo/hand-holding with one of the sound recordings on PennSound.
Weds. Nov. 14, Near/Miss launch at Penn Book Center, 6pm. Near/Miss will be the focus on the next class, Nov. 27. No class on Nov. 20.
13. (Nov. 27)
Near/Miss -- my new book from University of Chicago Press. Penn Book Center will have copies. Respond however you like but include at least two questions. We will discuss the book in class based on your posts and questions.
respondent: Jackson, Emily
14. (Dec. 4) (last class)
Create and post a portfolio of your "wreading" experiments and translations/transcreations. Rework pieces you posted earlier and do a few additional pieces based on the original assignments. Also write a final commentary reviewing your impressions of the readings, with special emphasis on ways you have changed your perspective since your initial commentary. Because the class needs to read your post before Tuesday, please post no later than Sunday at noon.
Gale Literature Resource Center
Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
Twentieth-Century American Poetry
"Further Reading" on poetics for "The Practice of Poetics"
The syllabus is a work in progress and subject to change.