Temple-Penn Poetics
Temple: English 8904
Penn: English 589 /Comp Lit 577
Rachel Blau DuPlessis & Charles Bernstein

The Major and the Minor
Keynotes of 20th and 21st Century Poetry

Fall 2007
Tuesdays: 6:30-9:30

Temple: TUCC 604
Penn: Fisher-Bennett Hall Room 222

Office Hours: 3-5 on Tuesday; but preferably by appointment
For DuPlessis: 954 Anderson. Phone: 215-204-1810

e-mails: rdupless @  temple.edu or charles.bernstein @ english.upenn.edu

Syllabus here

This course is Temple-Penn Poetics production, bringing together students enrolled in both Rachel Blau DuPlessis's Temple and Charles Bernstein's Penn seminar. Our course focusses on poetry of the long twentieth-century, treating issues of major and minor — the definitions, meanings, rhetorics and implications of this rubric. Institutions of canon-formation will also be discussed. Authors to be considered are Charles Baudelaire, Robert Creeley, Louis Zukofsky, Lorine Niedecker, Hannah Weiner, H.D., Larry Eigner, Melvin Tolson, James Weldon Johnson, George Oppen, James Schuyler, Charles Olson, and more. Relevant critical works, and works of poetics, will be a focus as well. Weekly participation on a class listserv is required along with a final project or paper taking up the work of the course along with some secondary reading.

Here is RBD's precis of the course topics:

1. Minor genres, minor modes. “Littleness.” The trivial. The ordinary. The poetic and unpoetic. Theorizing the poetic detail and poetic language. The privileges of the minor. The disadvantages. What is majority or the major? The feminine or the marginal as minor. What is a minor poet?
2. Group-formation, movement, coterie. Distinguishing these institutions of production and dissemination in relation to the minor.
3. Biography, social location and major/minor. Gender, race, class, degree of disability/ableness, religious culture as guarantors of literary status. Heroic (major) and unheroic (minor) biography and topoi--the poet's construction, from raw materials, of self-mythos. The nature and structure of the poetic career and “an oeuvre.”
4. Is there such a thing as a minor poem? What would it be? Is it a construction made by an author, by a reader, by institutions of dissemination, by institutions of reception…other? Are there minor styles? minor genres? minor mode? Minor poetic registers? The boundaries of the poem as it becomes song or oral performance—in relation to conventions of major and minor.
5. Dialect, minor languages and minor literature. Minor nations? The minor and the issue of social and political power. Linguistic power.


Required Books
at Penn Book Center for Penn Students and Temple book store for Temple students, with the exception of Neidecker, which is only available at Penn Book Center

±H.D. Trilogy. Introduction and notes by Aliki Barnstone. New York: New Directions, 1998.
±Peter Nicholls. Modernisms: A Literary Guide. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
±Lorine Niedecker. Collected Works, ed. Jenny Penberthy. Berkeley: University of California Press.
±George Oppen. Selected Poems. Ed. Robert Creeley. New York: New Directions, 2003.
±Leslie Scalapino. Day Ocean State of Stars’ Night: Poems and Writings, 1989 & 1999-2006. Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2007: o/p: get on-line
±Hannah Weiner. Hannah Weiner’s Open House. Ed. Patrick Durgin. Sine Locus: Kenning Editions, 2007.
±Louis Zukofsky. Selected Poems. Ed. Charles Bernstein. NY: The Library of America, 2006.

Required readings and materials not on this list will be found at the password protected website for this course. We will send you an email that will give you this password or email either instructor if you have a problem accessing the material. There are also a few sound files that are in a protected section of PennSound. Registered Penn students will be able to access these files; Temple students should make arrangments with the Penn students to share these recordings.

Prerequisites: To be registered for this course, all students must be matriculated graduate students in the English Departments of the University of Pennsylvania or at Temple University. With the permission of the Professor Bernstein, undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania may join this class.

Meeting Places. Two rooms are officially assigned, one for each university. We will announce how meeting places are to be handled. Please be particularly alert to the issue around course meeting spaces. No one should be stranded! In addition, your attendance is urged at Temple and Penn poetry readings linked to this course and to Temple-Penn Poetics.

Responsibilities of every student: All reading and preparation should be completed before coming to class. Students will be asked to provide focused class participation both orally and on the listserv, involving about 3 pages or more of weekly writing. Students will have a final project, that can be a paper of web project or other projects as approved by the appropriate instructor. If there is a problem of any kind, please e-mail the appropriate instructor or discuss it with one of us.

Class List
info/sub page
list archive
posts to poetics@mailman.ssc.upenn.edu
The first thing to do it to subscribe to the list. With your email and password, you will have access to the list web archive. When subscribing, you can also choose the "digest function" — you will then get all the posts together once each day. You can also set other subscription options. To get to the options page, after you have subscribed, go to the information page and type your email into the last fill-in box at the bottom of the page ("Unsubscribe or edit options"). You can select "disable" mail delivery (first option) if you prefer to read the list on the web interface only.You can also get to the options page by using the link provided in the "welcome" message when you subscribed.
      The list will accept formatting and attachments, but the archive will convert formatted text to plain text and images to attachments. For the archive browser, word-wrap is preferred.

Pedagogical Guides
DuPlessis, "Poetry Questions"
Bernstein, "Poem Profiler"
Wreading Experiments

Temple University Policies

Disability. This statement is mandated by Temple University. Students with need for accommodations based on the impact of a documented disability should tell me, and, to help coordinate reasonable accommodations, should also contact the Office of Disability Services (100 Ritter Annex) at 215-204-1280 or see the Temple University website at http://www.temple.edu/disability/

Statement on Academic Freedom. This statement is mandated by Temple University. Freedom to teach and freedom to learn are inseparable facets of academic freedom. The university has adopted a policy on Student and Faculty Academic Rights and Responsibilities. See <http://policies.temple,edu/getdoc.asp?policy_no=03.70.02>

Writing Assignments and Requirements: Every week the student must submit a response to the listserv related to the readings. This response will take into consideration the general questions for the seminar. These constitute open writing because all students in the course can read everything others have said. We may also assign specific topics to specific students, based on our sense of developing interests. Any student may initiate responses to any post if that student wishes. Students may write between one and 10 pages per week. The norm is around 3, or about 30+ pages for the semester. There will be instructor response, either privately or to the list as a whole. In addition, each student will develop the ideas out of one topic or author into a final project, topic and mode with approval from the specific instructor. This may be a longer structured argument, for a 10-15 page paper, or a web-based project due (for Temple students) on Dec. 1. We will discuss various options in class and via email. This final project will be briefly reported on during the last class. These projects can be posted on the listserv, if an individual student wants this option. Each instructor will assign final grades for her/his students.

Learning Outcomes: graduate level reading, looking, understanding, speaking, evaluating, and writing skills will be modeled, acquired, and reinforced. The writing skills will involve the analysis of text in poetry and poetics, as well as sound files of poetry. Curiosity, cooperation, creativity, and hard work will be supported.

General Format for this joint class. One instructor will begin—in whatever way she or he wants (lecture, Q&A, response to the listserv). The other instructor will pick up in about an hour as he or she wants. The third hour will involve more intense student discussion, reports based on student interests, or students picking up the various motifs opened via the listserv discussions. Class will end promptly at 9:20-9:30 in the evening.

Evaluation and Grading: Students will be graded upon the quality and consistency of the work performed in this course, on their responsible and strategic participation, and on their intelligent responsiveness to the tasks and topics set out by the course. Temple information: Grading percentages are inappropriate to designate in a graduate course of this nature, and I won’t note them.

For Temple students: In all graduate courses, along with the final grade, instructors are required to write an evaluative report on every student. This report goes in your file, which is kept by the program in which you are matriculated. You will receive a copy of these comments from me at the end of the semester, along with your grade. You have access to this part of your file (but not to your admissions packet with its confidential letters). If you are curious what other instructors have said about you, or if you want to check that all instructors have submitted these letters in a timely fashion (sometimes not a bad idea), please ask the graduate secretary, Belinda-Wilson Hagins. If you are receiving financial aid, it behooves you to check whether all letters have come in from the prior semester.

For Temple students: Furthermore, in all graduate courses, you have an opportunity to evaluate the instructor on University-mandated forms that are distributed in class at the end of the semester. (Your evaluations are not seen by the instructor until after grades are filed; instructor gets encoded copies only.)