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ENGLISH 680: Poetry & Pragmatism
Susan Howe and Peter Hare

2 October - 1 November 2002
State University of New York at Buffalo

The main interest for this course is the knotty question, "Do poets and philosophers think alike?" So we want to keep this seminar open to improvisation - we want to be able to go where this question leads us - which may be down a path to some current metaphysical ideas of symbolic logicians, counterfactuals, deep ecology, possible worlds, paradoxes, homeless objects, worlds in which the first law of contradiction does not hold -

Louis Menand, ed. Pragmatism: A Reader
Morris Dickstein, ed. The Revival of Pragmatism

Wednesday, 2 October
Readings: C. S. Peirce, "A Definition of Pragmatism" (Menand); William James, "What Pragmatism Means" (Menand); Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Experience"; Stanley Cavell, "What's the Use of Calling Emerson a Pragmatist?" (Dickstein); Richard Poirier, "Why Do Pragmatists Want to be like Poets?" (Dickstein); Louis Menand, "Pragmatists and Poets: A Response to Richard Poirier" (Dickstein).

Friday, 4 October
Readings: Wallace Stevens, poems from The Rock (in Collected Poems); Hilary Putnam, "Pragmatism and Realism" (Dickstein); Richard Rorty, "Philosophy as a Kind of Writing: An Essay on Derrida" (Menand).

Wednesday, 9 October
Readings: William Carlos Williams, Paterson Bk. 1; John Dewey, "The Ethics of Democracy" (Menand); Westbrook, "Pragmatism and Democracy: Reconstructing the Logic of John Dewey's Faith" (Dickstein); Richard Rorty, "Pragmatism as Romantic Polytheism" (Dickstein); Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The American Scholar."

Friday, 11 October
Readings: William Carlos Williams, Paterson Bks. 2, 3, & 5; Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, CH. 7: Relativity and CH. 8: The Quantum Theory; John Dewey, "Experience, Nature, and Art" (Menand).

Wednesday, 16 October
Readings: Cornel West, "Prophetic Pragmatism" (Menand); Nancy Fraser, "Another Pragmatism: Alain Locke, Critical 'Race' Theory, and the Politics of Culture" (Dickstein); Kenneth Burke, Philosophy in Literary Form, "William Carlos Williams 1883-1963"; William Carlos Williams, In The American Grain, "Abraham Lincoln"; Marianne Moore [Abraham Lincoln essay].

Friday, 18 October
Michael Magee visit
Readings: Michael Magee, "Ralph Ellison: Pragmatism, Jazz, and The American Vernacular"; Kenneth Burke, "Literature as Equipment for Living," "The Negro's Pattern of Life," and "The Rhetoric of Hitler's Battle."

Wednesday, 23 October
Readings: C. S. Peirce, "A Guess at the Riddle of Chance" and "Evolutionary Love" (Menand); C. S. Peirce, "Letters to Lady Welby" and "A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God"; Charles Olson, "A Special View of History" and selections from The Maximus Poems.

Friday, 25 October
Saturday, 26 October
Conference: C. S. Peirce and the Art of Icons

Wednesday, 30 October
Readings: George Santayana, "The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy"; Gertrude Stein The Geographical History of America pp. 1-20 and selections from Stanzas in Meditation; William James, "The Will to Believe" (Menand); Charles Olson, "[Maximus From Dogtown - IV]" (please refer to the Golliard edition at Poetry and Rare Books Collection, 420 Capen Hall).

Friday, 1 November
Readings: Gertrude Stein, "What is English Literature?"; Charles Olson, "The Death of Europe"; Wallace Stevens, "Materia Poetica (1940)," "To An Old Philosopher in Rome," and "An Ordinary Evening in New Haven."



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last updated 26 October 2002