English 774.301 
Comparative Literature 622.401
Prose and Its Discontents
The History and Practice of Aversive Prose

Charles Bernstein

Mondays 7-10:00 pm
Fall 2015

The seminar will examine an abbreviated history of exceptional and aversive approaches to essays and discursive prose (upper limit poetry / lower limit manifestos) while at the same time focusing on a set of prose experiments by seminar participants. In addiition ot providing a very abbreviated taxonomy of critical prose, an emphasis will be on historicinzig and rhetoricizing what is called prose, with an aim to estrange contmporary positivist prose writing. Writing assignments will be given for most weeks and the results discussed in class. On the conceptual side, Raymond Queneau's Exercises in Style (multiple stylistic versions of the "same' content) will frame the seminar. Participants will be asked to take a paragraph from their scholarly work and subject it to continual deformations and permutations throughout the semester.

"All research is crisis. What is sought is nothing other than the turn of seeking, of research, that occasions this crisis: the critical turn." –– Blanchot, "A Plural Speech"

Required books at Penn Book Center:
Raymond Queneau, Exercises in Style
Claudia Rankine, Citizen 
Susan Howe, Spontaneous Particulars
How Long Is the Present: Selected Talk Poems of David Antin, ed. Stephen Fredman

Erving Goffman, Frame Analysis (1974) via on-line markets
John Berger, Ways of Seeing (1972) on-line markets or pdf (class only)

1 (Aug. 31): Introduction
Wreading Experiments
John Sweeney's basic English translation of Donne. (Basic English wiki page.)
Postmodern essay generator (and cf Adolescent Poetry)
Chomsky bot
Snarxiv and arxiv
Steve McLauglin and Jim Carpenter: Issue 1 and Issue 2

My overall introdcution to this topic is "Frame Lock""

essays for the break:
Benjamin, "The Writer's Technique in 12 Theses"
Adorno, "Essay As Form:": pdf
Talking points:
The essay "thinks in fragments just as reality is fragmented and gains its unity only by moving through the fissures, rather than by smoothing them over. The unanimity of the logical order deceives us about the antagonistic nature of that on which it was jauntily imposed. Discontinuity is essential to the essay; its concern is always a conflict brought to a standstill."
"Those who believe they must defend the intellect against the charge of a lack of solidity are the enemies of intellect: intellect itself, once emancipated, is mobile."
"Disaster threatens intellectual experience the more strenuously it ossifies into theory and acts as if it held the philosopher's stone in hand."

2 (Sept. 14) Perumation and Array

For this week: post to the list 1) a short response to the reading here and listed for week #1. 2) the writing assignment.

Raymond Queneau, Exercises in Style (Penn Book Center)
In 1947, Raymond Queneau, a founding member of OuLiPo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or "Workshop of Potential Literature") published Exercises de Style, 99 variations on the "same" story. Each of these 99 approaches could take a place of honor in this list but best to turn to that work for the enumeration and explanation. For present purposes (if purposes doesn't strike an overly teleological chord), suffice it to say that an initial incident, mood, core proposition, description, idea, or indeed, story, might be run through the present list of experiments, though to what end only the Shadow knows, and maybe not even the Shadow.
Further reading: Queneau's One Hundred Thousand Billion Poems
Writing: Take a key segment, on paragraph to up to three pages, from your scholarly work; present the original and re-write in three styles, inspired by this book. Suggestion: make one as loaded with technical terms as possible while still remaining "faithful" to your ideas; make one as simple as possible, for a reader with no relevant background information; make on belle-lettrisitc (focussed on beautful, lyric language); make one reductive and schematic and polemic; translate into Basic English, etc. Try one round in line with Postmodern Essay Generator above. Use this as model. See also Tim Dean's critique of in Fall 2015 issues of Berlant and Edelman in Amercican Literary History (and their reply at end of response).
Optional: try to cast the segment as a comic strip: For example, here is a review by Gary Clement of the graphic novel Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and also Nick Sousanis: Boston Globe and HUP. Also: Julian Peters.

3 (Sept. 21) Register, tone, angle and the vernacular imaginary
Claudia Rankine, Citizen (Penn Book Center)
PennSound reading from the book at Temple (final item on the page)
Writing: Select one passage from this book. Rewrite in three different prose styles: paraphrase or summary, first person, different vernacular, op ed, polemical speech, cast via "theory" (race, psychoanalysis, post-colonial, epistolary, comic strip (see above), "basic," or other. Comment (and on the book too!).
Extension (optional): John Lucas's video realizations

4 (Sept. 28) Metaphors We Perceive By
Erving Goffman, Frame Analysis (1974) via on-line markets
John Berger, Ways of Seeing (1972) on-line markets or pdf (class only)
Wittgenstein: Duck/rabbit aspect blindness and "seeing as" from pt 2 (now called "Philosophy of Psychology: A Fragment" from Philosophical Investigations, tr. G.E.M. Anscombe: pdf
Lakoff'/Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (Penn only)
A Few Key Points:
Berger: three frames for social interpretations/interrogations of the art work: significance of reproduction (which can be extended to the "textual condition"), significance of the economic role (who owns the work, who consumes it and why, how it circulates); gender/class/race/ethnic/national narrative in the form or reception.
Goffman: what the "event" is (including the art "object") is determined by the frame (often there is more discussion about an event than the event itself; the discussion brings the event into focus); new frames often push out other frames and some frames stick (e.g. "stigma"); frames are cued or keyed; what is out-of-frame is often most significant. Frames are related to ideology (in Althusser's sense) and also "metaphors we live by" and categories: that through which we perceive/value. Compare also Wittgenstein's "seeing as" in Part II of Philosophical Investigations and especially his notion of "aspect blindness" (duck/rabbit).

Extensions: negations of frame (negative dialectics) versus conflict between frames (Blake's contraries) vs dialog (dialectic) among frames vs serial frame (serial poetry).
Does the text frame the interpretation or the interpretation frame the text? Or is a text a work without a frame?
Critic as artist/artist as critic: both critisism and art may engender new frames or context existing frames, or both. (Cf: "Frame Lock" in My Way: Speeches and Poems)
See also:
Ways of Seeing BBC version on YouTube:
1- "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction": Episode 1 1/4 ; Episode 1 2/4 ; Episode 1 3/4 ; Episode 1 4/4
2- "The Female Nude": Episode 2 1/4; Episode 2 2/4: ?; Episode 2 3/4; :Episode 2 4/4
3. "Oil Painting": Episode 3 1/4Episode 3 2/4; :Episode 3 3/4; Episode 3 4/4
4. "Advertising" Episode 4 1/3; Episode 4 2/3; Episode 4 3/3

My poem, "Asylum" is based on Goffman's book of the same title: see Robin Seguy's digital edition with source.

N.B. PDF of Goffman Gender Advertisements (1987)
Lorraine O'Grady's framing ("Art is ...")
Laura Mulvey: ppt on her 1973/1975 essay on the male gaze; text
Lakoff, Moral Politics

Writing:Resond to the set of readings in whatver manner you choose.

Wednesday, Setptember 30, at KWH, 6pm, Rob Halpern

Monday, October 5, at KWH 5:30 PM: Rodrigo Toscano

5 (Oct. 5) The Aversive Essay: Classical Models
The thought of what America would be like
If the Classics had a wide circulation
                      Troubles my sleep,       
                                                ––Ezra Pound

Heraklitus (c. 500 BCE): fragments
Guy Davenport tr.
Some Herakleitos, drawings by Alex Selenitsch, intoduced by Tim Chandler
Further reading:
Heraclitus web with Greek text (& John Burnet tr.)
G.W.T. Patrick tr. 1889 bilingual with sources
William Harris tr.
[Therefore those that have thought that the substance of things
Is fire, and the universe consists of fire alone,
Have fallen far from valid reasoning.
Of these the champion, first to open the fray,
Is Heraclitus, famed for his dark saying
Among the more empty-headed of the Greeks
Rather than those grave minds that seek the truth.
For fools admire and love those things they see
Hidden in verses turned all upside down,
And take for truth what sweetly strokes the ears
And comes with sound of phrases fine imbued
--Lucretius, tr. Melville]

[Socrates (470/469 – 399 BCE), "
Phaedrus" via Loeb. (This is the one on the Comp Lit MA exam)

Cicero (107-44 BCE): rhetoric, eloquence, persuasion
glossary of rhetorical terms
the Princeton Encylopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 2013, is now on-line for Penn.
Against Catiline ("In Catilinam ") 1: Perseus;  Latin/Interlinear English & Hathii Trust book version of this; Loeb tr. C. Macdonald; tr. Young. tr Grant
Further reading:
"De Inventione': Loeb (tr. H.M. Hubbell) (early Cicero, wherein rhetoric is defined in terms of "Invention, Arrangement, Expression, Memory, Delivery" and oratory is categorized as "epideictic, deliberative or forensic." Much of the book is devoted to the forensic, preseniting an oration in a law court). 
"On Oratory" –– outline –– notable here because it is a dialog: Loeb (Suttan/Rackhan tr., 1942); Tr. Watson & html (1860):
"Orator": Loeb & Guttenberg
Rhetorica ad Herennium (c. 80 B.C.E.), often attributed to Cicero: 1954 tr & retyped & Loeb

(c. 99 - c. 55 BCE): Of Things' Nature –– discursive verses
My intro.
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:
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
Leonard/Guttenberg (1916)
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)
Stephen Greenblatt: prose synopsis of key points from Swerve (2012): what is the difference between this paraphrase and the poem? Is thi the heresy of paraphrase. Note: all his quotes from Lurcretius are from a prose translation and he scaresely discusses how the poem is any different than a prose work, except for its oft remarked beauty. Is this is long-term form of de-versificatiion as discussed by Godzich/Kittay below? Beware Greenblatt's thesis.
Henri Bergson, Extraits de Lucrèce, Paris, Delagrave (1884); English tr. The Philosphy of Poetry
George Santayana, Three Philosophical Poets (1910)
Epicurus (341–270 B.C.): Principal Doctrines | Vatican Sayings | Letter to Menoeceus | Letter to Herodotus | Letter to Pythocles | Letter to Idomeneus | Last Will
Diogenes Laertius (early 200s A.D., biographer of Epicurus): Lives of Eminent Philosophers, book X

Translate a passage from Lucrtetious or Heraklitus. Compare dfferent translations. Take a passage of Lucretius and put it into prose.
Translation of this assignment: You can compare several translations and extrapolate from there. For this week, I'd rather you focus on a short passage and do these processes then take in the full work, since I am interested in your getting a micro sense of the stylistic texture of the work. So: translations/adaptions/extensions/trancreations/versions. Do as much as you have time for but one translation is sufficient. And the passage can be quite short -- two lines (a period) up to a dozen, though two lines can take a long time! But for the translation into prose, if you are going from English tr. to new prose, which is simplest, then a larger section necessary -- anyway perhaps five or six lines where you have enough to paraphrase.

6 (Oct. 12) Theories of Prose
[PS to seesion 5: Millman Parry, "The Historical Method in Literary Criticism"
"Attic Prose" & "The Baroque Style in Prose" by Morris Croll (1872-1947)
Wlad Godzich and Jeffrey Kittai, Emergence of Prose [skim with a view to hisotrizing "prose", so for our purpose not nec. to dwell on close readings. cf discussion of Cicero).
Theory of Prose by Viktor Shklovski: chaps. 9 (digression) [& in Poetics Jnl] & 10 (anecdote).
Adorno, "Essay As Form:": pdf
Bernstein, "Frame Lock" (1992) & a note and summary on Croll
Further reference:
"Attic Prose" in the Seventeenth Century Morris W. Croll Studies in Philology Vol. 18, No. 2 (Apr., 1921), pp. 79-128 JSTOR [open access]
Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation by Gerard Genette and Jane E. Lewin
Pause and Effect: An Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West by M. B. Parkes

Writing: write your response in a Baroque or digressive style

Monday, Ocober 19, at KWH, 5:30 PM: Nick Montfort

7 (Oct. 19) Susan Howe, Skype class visit
Susan Howe, Spontaneous Particulars (Penn Book Center) (Harvard video)
___ Vagrancy in the Park The essence of Wallace Stevens: Roses, roses. Fable and dream. The pilgrim sun. The Nation (Nov. 2, 2015)
Howe @ EPC, PennSound
Bernstein, annotations/commentary
Leslie Scalapino, "Seamless Anti-Landscape"
Stein, Composition as Explanation, "An Elucidation"
further reading:
Williams, Sping and All and The Embodiment of Knowledge
Zukofsky, Creeley, Duncan, Baraka essays
Chales Olson, Call Me Ishmael and "Proprioeception"
from Howe's My Emily Dickinson
Lyn Hejinian, The Language of Inquiry
Robert Grenier, Attention (1985, from Eclipse), Realizing Things, SUNY/Buffalo, October 22, 1998.
Bruce Andrews, Paradise and Method
L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, ed. Andrews & Bernstein (1978-1982)
Writing: try something in the collage manner of Howe or the style of Scalapino in response to either or both of these works.

Oct. 23: Locating the Avant-Garde conference at Penn

8 (Oct. 26) Digression, Meditation, Monads, Prophesy

A really free and cultivated person ought to be able to attune himself at will to being philosophical or philological, critical or poetical, historical or rhetorical, ancient or modern: quite arbitrarily, just as one tunes an instrument, at any time and to any degree. –– Schlegel

Montaigne (1533 –1592 (follower of Lucretius): "That We Taste Nothing Pure"; en français & see this corrected page; or "Physiognomy" or "Presumption" (& French): (cf. M's copy of Lucretius)
Descartes (1596-1650): Discourse on  Method Part IV (1637) & Meditations I & II (1642)
Bacon (1561-1626): "Of Truth" (1613 edn but not this essay), 1718
Fredrich Schlegel, (1772–1829) Philosophical Fragments: "In true prose, everything has to be underlined." Excerpt: "Critical Fragments": pdf  
Futher reading [paradigmatic]:
[Augustine, Confessions]
Leibniz ((1646-1716): Monadology; French
Rousseau (1717-1778) , Confessions]
Blake, "Marriage of Heaven and Hell," Proverbs of Hell (1790)
 _____  Jerusalem (1804, preface to Milton)
Kierkegaard, Philosophical Fragments and Concluding Scientific Postscrips
, Also Sprach Zarathustra
Walter Benjamin
Karl Kraus
Writing: consider doing your response as a collaboration between two or more seminar participants.

Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 6:3pm in KWH: Peter Cole, intro: Ariel Resnikoff

9 (Nov. 2) Emerson and Wittgenstein
The American Scholar (1837)
The Poet (1841-43)
Experience (1844) 
Self-Reliance (1841)
Tractatus (bilingual)

Philosophical Investigations (1945),
excerpts emphasizing vernacular, self-questioning, and dialog
Zettel(Google preview) (a set of cards not put into final order_
Rosmarie Waldrop
Reproduction of Profile (1987) & Danny Snelson's sound montage [end of pg].
Give your response in a form that imitates one of these stytles (or the styles from last week)

10 (Nov. 9) Dialog
[Continuaton from #9: Gabe on Waldrop & Shawn on late Wittgenstein]
Oscar Wilde, "The Critic as Artist" (1891) (note also "The Decay of Lying"); 1909 edn:
Jerome McGann, from Swinburne: An Experiment in Criticism (1972)
______"Evidence of Things Not Seen: A Play" (2007): pdf
_____ & Johanna Drucker: Ivanhoe game
Nathaniel Mackey, from From a Broken Bottle Trace of Perfume Still Eminate
Writing: Give your response to this set of readings as a dialog or play.

11 (Nov. 16) Michael Davidson class visit
Michael Davidson reading Nov. 17 at KWH
Because Davidson has very limited hearing, it would be helpful for you to put at the top of your responses a couple of questions for him that he can read.
"Cleavings": pdf
"Strange Blood": pdf
Prose of Fact
Option additional reading by Davidson.
"Aesthetics" in new Disability Keywords collection.
"Compulsory Homosciality"
On Eigner

12 (Nov. 23) David Antin, talking at the boundaries
How Long Is the Present: Selected Talk Poems of David Antin, ed. Stephen Fredman at Penn Book Center
Antin at PennSound (recordings, see eg his KWH talk on Freud as poet; see his sky writing poems video)
>The Principle of Fit, II (1980) (Part I) (26:32): MP3
>The Principle of Fit, II (Part II) (25:49): MP3
>A Conversation with David Antin, questions from Penn students (2004) (1:11:21) MP3

Steve McCafferry, "The Kommunist Manifesto or Wot We Wukkers Want":  MP3 TEXT. This is a translation into Yorkshire dialect of Marx & Engels' Communist Manifesto respondent Shawn
"Lecture on  Nothing" (1959): LION (note: use the graphic pages rather than the plain text)

Joan Retallack "Essay as Wager": pdf
Luce Irigeray, "Je, Tu, Nous": pdf
Conversation with David Antin by Antin and Charles Bernstein (pdf of full book)
"Modernism and Postmodernism in Contemporary Poetry" boundary 2, 1972, via JSTORor Penn only pdf
"Some Questions about Modernism"" (1974)
Further reading:
Charles Olson, Talking at Berkeley, 1965, intro Robert Duncan: MP3 (3 hours); pdf transcription
Bob Perelman, Writing / Talks, Southern Illinois University Press
James Baldwin at Cambridge University in 1965: YouTube & transcript
Mina Loy manifestos,  "Aphorisms of Futurism" (1914) at Poetry Fdn ; optional archival ms: pdf/Penn of ms of "Feminist Manifesto
Therea Chak Hak, Dictee
Shulamath Fireston, The Dialectic of Sex: pdf
Valeries Solonas, The Smum Manifesto pdf
Nicole Brossard
        "Poetic Politics" (Gale) in The Politics of Poetic Form
        Brossard in 99 Poets
        How(2) Brossard interview
Talks on PennSound:
Perelman collection
New York Talk
St. Mark's Talks

Writing: talk out your core work to friends and transcribe.

13 (Nov. 30)
Expanded prose in digital format, lead by Chris and Orchid

We will start this session with a discussion of the venacular Communist Manifesto, with Shawn and collaborators Tom & Mia, continuating the discussion from last week.

Marhsall McLuhan & Quentin Fiore, The Medium Is the Message (1967)
Johanna Drucker, Spec Lah & at PennSound

Looking back 20 years:
Marta Werner on ED, Bernstein, "An Mosaic for Convergence," and Matt Kirchenbaum, "Machine Visions: Towards a Poetics of Artificial Intelligence" in EBR #6 (1995)
Kurt Brereton , "CyberPoetics of Typography": Jacket #1 (1997)
Jim Andrews, "On Lional Kearns" (2004)
Joel Kuszai, ed.,Poetics@
The Poetics List

Bernstein, Syllabi (1989-2015); but see esp. Textual Conditions syllbus (originating in the mid-1990s) thar focussed on the work on Johanna Drucker and Jerome McGann, espeically.

PoemTalk and ModPo: on MOOC as dialog format, the TAs;  index of topics:
& Harryette Mullen, "Sleeping with the Dictonary"
Susan Howe / Emily Dickinson:  PoemTalk
Filreis on MOOCs

Tan Lin: "PhD Sounds" and "Bibliographic Sound Track" at PennSound and "Eleven Minute Painting"

Further Reading
Espen J. Aarseth, Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature
Donna Haraway
Stephanie Strickland

Formatting prose in HTML and other ditital formats: embedding audio and video clips; using digital tools for analysis.

14 (Dec. 7 Last Class): Delivery: performance of prose, "giving a paper"
There is no final paper for this course. Instead all participants will work together to create a final group author essay using collaborative digtial tools (wiki? Google doc?). For this weeks reading/writing: begin work on this project. We can discuss on Nov. 30 the approach. In class for Dec. 7, each person will present a prose work in terms of "delivery" -- and we will discuss various modes of the performance of critical writing at conferences or in lectures. Each person should prepare a five-minute speach and we will then discuss and critique.