Poetry and Pragmatism
Fall 2002 - Poetics Program - SUNY-Buffalo
English 680. Professors Susan Howe and Peter Hare
Wed. and Fri. 12:30-3:10
Clemens 412
Office: Clemens 415. e-mail Snhowe@aol.com, Showe@acsu.buffalo.edu
Office Hours:  Friday 3:30-5

Texts. Available at Talking Leaves.
Louis Menand (ed.) Pragmatism: A Reader.
Morris Dickstein (ed.) The Revival of Pragmatism.

Other Material will be in the form of Xerox handouts and or in a box in the English Office. There will also be books on reserve at Silverman.

A suggested site for checking Peirce manuscripts in digitized form is: http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/jzeman/homecont.htm

Once there click the first line, “Peirce Contents.”

For comprehensive information on pragmatism consult The Pragmatism Cybrary


Oral Report: In each seminar three people will each present a 4 or 5 page double-space paper on an assigned topic (poetry or philosophy). Assignments are below. This will be an exercise in chance, necessity, and brevity. Copies of your talk should be made for everyone in the seminar. Part of your assignment is to keep the report informative but brief. You may simply give the class a summary, you may offer a critique, or even address one paragraph, or one stanza of a poem. There is no formula.

Final Paper 10-15 double-space pages (hard copy): To be handed in at the end of the semester (December). Mailed to Howe&Hare, 115 New Quarry Road, Guilford, CT 06437. We will return the papers to the English Graduate Office.

This paper will take the work of a 20th century American poet (one or two poems, one book, or some essays of the poet) and discuss it in terms of the pragmatist material we have covered during class, or material in the Dickstein and Menand anthologies. No poets currently at UB. Some suggestions: John Ashbery, Hart Crane, Charles Olson, Lyn Hejinian, Bernadette Mayer, Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, Frank OHara, George Oppen, Lorine Niedecker, John Cage, Robert Lowell, Nathaniel Mackey, Michael Palmer, Susan Stewart, Maurren Owen, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Rae Armantrout, Barrett Watten, Bruce Andrews, Alice Notley, Clark Coolidge, Rosmarie Waldrop, Keith Waldrop, Ron Silliman, Leslie Scalapino. These are suggestions only. However you should choose a poet who has produced a substantial body of work.


Oct 2. Wed.
Readings: Peirce, “A Definition of Pragmatism” (Menand, 56ff.), W. James, “What Pragmatism Means” (Menand, 93ff.), Emerson, “Experience.” (if you dont have a copy of Emersons essay you need one anyway!),  Stanley Cavell, “Whats the Use of Calling Emerson a Pragmatist?” (Dickstein,72 ff.), Richard Poirier, “Why Do Pragmatists Want to be Like Poets?” (Dickstein.  347ff.). Louis Menand, 3Pragmatists and Poets: A Response to Richard Poirier” (Dickstein, 362 ff).

Oct 4   Fri.
Readings: Wallace Stevens,  poems from “The Rock” (in Collected Poemshandout), Hilary Putnam, “Pragmatism and Realism” (Dickstein, 37 ff. ), Richard Rorty, 3Philosophy as a Kind of Writing: An Essay on Derrida (Menand, 304 ff).
Report No. 1: Putnam: “Pragmatism and Realism.” Lori Emerson.
Report No. 2: Stevens: “Not Ideas About the Thing But the Thing Itself.” Jennifer Attaway.
Report No. 3: Richard Rorty, “Philosophy as a Kind of Writing: An essay on Derrida. Eric Mills.

Oct 9 Wed.
Readings:  William Carlos Williams, Paterson (Book 1)(You can lay hands on a copy if not see Susan Howe), Dewey “The Ethics of Democracy” (Menand, 182 ff.), Westbrook, 3Pragmatism and Democracy: Reconstructing the Logic of John Deweys Faith,” (Dickstein, 128ff.), Rorty, “Pragmatism as Romantic Polytheism,” (Dickstein, 21ff). Emerson, “The American Scholar.”
Report No. 1: Emerson, “The American Scholar.” Leslie Hodgkins
Report No. 2: Williams, Paterson (Part One), (pick a passage). Brian Van Remmen
Rorty, “Pragmatism as Romantic Polytheism”. Thom Donovan

Oct 11 Fri.
Readings: W.C. Williams, Paterson (Books 2 & 3). A.N.Whitehead, Science and The Modern World, “Relativity” (Ch VII) & “The Quantum Theory,” (Ch VIII) (Handouts), Dewey, “Experience, Nature, and Art” (Menand, 233ff.).
Report No. 1: Dewey,“Experience, Nature, and Art.” Elizabeth Finnegan
Report No. 2: Williams, Paterson, Parts of Books 2 &3 (Library section?). Sandra Guerreiro
Report No. 3: Whitehead, “Relativity” and “The Quantum Theory.” Greg Kinzer

Oct 16 Wed.
Readings: Cornel West, “Prophetic Pragmatism4 (Menand, 413ff.), Nancy Fraser, “Another Pragmatism: Alain Locke, Critical “Race” Theory, and the Politics of Culture,” (Dickstein, 157ff) Kenneth Burke, “William Carlos Williams 1883-1963,” from Philosophy of Literary Form. (Xerox).  Marianne Moore, Abraham Lincoln essay (handout)
Report No. 1: Cornel West, “Prophetic Pragmatism.” Boris Bekerman
Report No. 2: Marianne Moore, “Abraham Lincoln” essay and Williams on Moore. (handout). Connie Donatelli
Burke, “William Carlos Williams.” Holly Johnson

Oct 18  Fri.
Readings: Mike Magee, “Ralph Ellison: Pragmatism, Jazz, and The American Vernacular,” (handout), Kenneth Burke, “Literature as Equipment for Living.” (Xerox) and “The Negros Pattern of Life,4
Kenneth Burke, “The Rhetoric of Hitlers Battle. (Xerox)
Report No. 1: Kenneth Burke, “Literature as Equipment for Living.” Barbara Cole
Report No. 2: Kenneth Burke “The Rhetoric of Hitlers Battle,4 (Xerox). Kristen Gallagher        

Oct 23 Wed.
Readings: C.S. Peirce, “A Guess at The Riddle of Chance,” (Menand, 49ff.) “Evolutionary Love” (Menand, 55ff.) (Xerox copy) “Letters to Lady Welby” (Xerox copy),  “A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God,” (Xerox), Charles Olson, “A Special View of History.” (handout) & “Maximus of Gloucester” (Creeley ed of poems Xerox). (4 pages)
Report No. 1: “Letters to Lady Welby.” Geoffrey Hlibchuk
Report No. 2:
“A Special View of History.” Sarah Campbell
Report No. 3:
“A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God.” Sarah Dahl


Oct 30 Wed.
George Santayana, “The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy4 (handout), Gertrude Stein, The Geographical History of America (First 20 pages), and sections from Stanzas In Meditation. William James, “The Will to Believe,4 (Menand 69ff), Olson, Maximus from DogtownIV in Golliard edition (Xerox)
Report No. 1: “Stanzas In Meditation.” Salleen Sherman
Report No. 2:
Maximus, James Maynard
Report No. 2:
“The Will to Believe.” Ben Bedard

Nov 1 Fri.
Stein, “What is English Literature,” (handout), Olson, The Death of Europe” (SPCS 54-62 Xerox), Stevens, “Materia Poetica (1940)” (handout). “An Ordinary Evening in New Haven.”
Report No. 1: Stein, “What is English Literature.” Angela Szczepaniak
Report No. 2: Olson, “The Death of Europe.” Brian Mcmahon
Report No. 3:
Stevens, “Materia Poetica,” and “To an Old Philosopher in Rome,” Sasha Steensen