English 679 / Comparative Literature 714
Spring 1998


Textual Conditions 2.0

(Practice and Theory)

Charles Bernstein

Thursdays at 12:30 / 438 Clemens Hall

What is prose?" said jesting Pilot and would not stay for an answer.
Is prose justified?

Prose: it's more than just another name for poetry.

Key: TL=Talking Leaves, X=xerox, PR=Poetry Room, L=Lockwood Reserve

0. See syllabi for Textual Condtitions

1. (Jan. 22) Introduction

2. (Jan. 29) The Critic as Artist / Artist as Critic

Oscar Wilde, Critic as Artist (TL)
Gertrude Stein, "Composition as Explanation" (X)
Laura (Riding) Jackson, from The Telling (X)
David Antin, What It Means to Be Avant-Garde (X)
Robert Creeley, "Was That a Real Poem or Did You Just Make It Up Yourself?" (X)
Alan Davies, "Pursue Veritable Simples", "Lies" (X)
Peter Seaton, "How to Read IV" (X)
assignment: write a brief response to these in dialog form
Further Reading:
Andrews/Bernstein, The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book

Bruce Andrews, Paradise and Method
Nicole Brossard, Picture Theory
Robert Duncan, HD Book
Larry Eigner, Area/Lights/Heights
Madeline Gins, Helen Keller or Arakawa
Susan Howe, My Emily Dickinson and The Birth-mark
Steve McCaffery & bp Nichol
Nathaniel Mackey, Djbot Baghostus's Run
Charles Olson, Collected Prose
Nick Piombino, Boundary of Blur
Leslie Scalapino , How Phenomenon Appear to Unfold
Louis Zukofsky, Bottom: On Shakespeare and Prepositions

3. (Feb .5) John Yau: Poetry and Art Criticism - "Johns and Warhol: Assimilation and Segregation"
John Yau, Forbidden Entry (TL)

United States of Jasper Johns (TL)

4. (Feb. 12) Theories of Prose

Viktor Shklovski, Theory of Prose (TL)(L)
Morris Croll, "Attic Prose", "The Baroque Style in Prose" (X)
Wlad Godzich, J. Kittay, The Emergence of Prose (TL)(L)
Assignment: Write response in "pure theory" style": no reference to any work, proper name, &c.
Also Recommended:
Ruth-Ellen Boetcher Joeres and Elizabeth Mittman, eds., The Politics of the Essay (L)
Recommended Link:
David Porush and Todd Hivnor, "A Gaming Approach to Story Generation"

5. (Feb. 19) Allen Fisher lecture, "Recurrence and the Grand Theme in the Art of R. B. Kitaj"

Allen Fisher. Scram or other available poetry book (TL)
See also his home page (still under construction)
Kitaj: look at some of his work in one of the many catalogs at Lockwood
Erwin Panofksy, from Studies in Iconology (X)
Carl Schuster and Edmund Carpenter, Patterns that Connect, Social Symbolism in Ancient & Tribal Art (L): Fisher suggests primarily scanning the visual selection

Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature, A Necessary Unity (L) (First chapter and part of second)
Background Reading (via Fisher):
Gregory Bateson, the Introduction to Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology
Gilles Deleuze Difference and Repetition.
Jacques Derrida The Truth in Painting (Some of last chapter).
Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, A Book for Everyone and No one
Gillian Rose, Dialectic of Nihilism, Post-Structuralism and Law (Chapter 6)
Some work on Kurt Gödel's Theorem like S.G. Shanker or even parts of Douglas R. Hofstadter's tomes. A good Companion to Philosophy would do it.

6. (Feb. 26) Loss Pequeño Glazier, "The Poetics of the Web" (Hypertext I)

7. (March 5) Hypertext 2

Michael Joyce, Of Two Minds (TL) (L)
Edward Barrett, ed. From Society of the Text: Hypertext, Hypermedia, and the Social Construction of Information (X)
Jay David Bolter. Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, & the History of Writing (X)
J. Johnson-Eiola and S. Selber, "Policing Ourselves" (X)
George Landow, Hyper/Text/Theory (TL) (L)
Simon Penny, ed. Critical Issues in Hypertext Theory (L)
Visible Language 30:3 New Media Poetry (TL)
William Burroughs, The Third Mind

Further Reading:
David Kolb, Socrates in the Labyrinth: Hypertext, Argument, Philosophy (Eastgate,1994)
George P. Landow, Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992)
Richard A. Lanham, The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993)
Theodore Nelson, Literary Machines (Sausalito: Mindful, 1990)
Jokob Nielsen Hypertext and Hypermedia (NY: Academic Press, 1990)

PMC Hypertext Issue (7:3 1997): Michael Joyce (Twelve Blue), Diana Reed Slattery, John Cayley, Andrew Herman, Kirschenbaum/Drucker, Glazier
Bernstein, "An Mosaic for Convergence"
John Cayley, "Indra's Net"
"Pressing the Reveal Codes Key"
Chris Funkhouser, Poetry Webs
see also his essay at NYC96
Nancy Kaplan, "E-Literacies: Politexts, Hypertextsà"
"Weavers of Webs: A Portrait of Young Women on the Nets"
Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, "Machine Visions: Towards a Poetics of Artificial Intelligence
& his home page
David Porush, "Telepathy" and "Talmud and Hypertext"
Jim Rosenberg's home page

EBR 6 Image+Narrative, esp. Tomasula
EBR 5 Electro(poetics) Issue
Jim Andrews VizPo site
**Kurt Brereton, "CyberPoetics of Typography"
Caroline Guyer's home page
Michael Joyce's home page
Christopher Keep, "The Electronic Labyrinth"
Komninos's cyberpoetry site
Stuart Moulthrop, "Hegiarscope"
Other Moulthrop &
"You Say You Want A Revolution: Hypertext and the Laws of Media"

Gregory Ulmer, response to Joyce's Twelve Blue
John Unsworth, "Not Your Average Fool: The Humanist on the Internet"
Janine Wong, Peter Stokerson "Hypertext and the Art of Memory" (Visible Language 31:2 1997):

8. (March 19) Michael McClure talk

McClure, Scratching the Beat Surface (TL)
The Mad Club (if available) (TL)
Selected Poems or other poetry books in PR or TL or Lockwood
McClure on the Web

Michael McClure, Lighting the Corners: On Nature, Art, & the Visionary (TL)

9. (March 26) Modernist Poetry in Prose

Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons (TL)
William Carlos Williams, "Spring and All" in Imaginations (TL)
Stein, from How to Write (X), "An Elucidation", "Composition as Explanation" (X)
Assignment: consider doing an imitation of Stein or Williams's prose (or the prose of one of the Weds@4 visitors)

10. (April 2) Samuel R. Delany talk: "Longer Views"

Extensive information on Delany is available on the web.
Read in and around as much of Delany as you can. Especially recommended: Jewel Hinged Jaw, Longer Views (essays), Motion of Light in Water (memoir), Dhalgren (novel), Return to Nevèrÿon. Lockwood has all these and many more; order at TL.

11. (April 9) Haryette Mullen talk: "Black Chant: Expanding the Repertoire of Black Poetry"

Mullen, Muse and Drudge (TL)
Various Mullen articles (X)
Trimmings, SPeRM**KT

12. (April 16) Contemporary Poetry in Prose Formats

Ron Silliman, "The New Sentence" (X) in The New Sentence (L)
Ketjak (PR) or Tjanting (PR)
Stephen Fredman, Poet's Prose (TL) (L)
Lyn Hejinian, My Life (TL)
Lou Robinson & Camille Norton, eds., Resurgent (TL) (L)
(X): Bernadette Mayer, from Studying Hunger (see also Memory [PR]); Samuel Bucket ("Ruins true refuge"), Clark Coolidge, from Quartz Hearts; Lynne Dreyer, "The White Museum
Hejinian, Silliman, and Scalapino on LINEbreak

John Ashbery, Three Poems
Leslie Scalapino, The Front Matter, Dead Souls
Robert Greiner: Sentences
Assignment: experiment from list below

13. (April 23) Carolyn Burke: "Writing a Modernist Life"

Carolyn Burke, Becoming Modern: The Life of Mina Loy (TL)
Mina Loy, Lost Lunar Baedeker (TL)

14. (April 30) Last Class

Bernstein, "Frame Lock"
Presentation of participant projects, papers, plans

"I can't give you anything but Prose"

Experiments in Prose

I propose using Core-l to develop a list of prose experiments for this seminar. Cast your weekly response in terms of one of these exercises. Make your final project a series of prose explorations. Here is a starter kit:
1. Take one of your response papers, or a found/selected text, and translate it into a half-dozen different critical/methodological styles.
2. Instead of writing about the assigned readings, do imitations of the prose style.
3. Try out a series of imitations of chose authors.
4. General cut­ups: Write an essay or prose poem composed entirely of phrases lifted from other sources. Use one source for a poem and then many; try different types of sources: literary, historical, magazines, advertisements, manuals, dictionaries, instructions, travelogues, etc.
5. Serial sentences: Select one sentence each from a variety of different books or other sources. Add sentences of your own composition. Combine into one paragraph, reordering to produce the most interesting results.
6. Collaboration: Write essays with one or more other people: alternating lines, writing simultaneously and collaging, rewriting, editing, supplementing the previous version. This can be done in person, via e­mail, or through "snail" mail.

7. Write a prose piece trying to transcribe as accurately as you can your thoughts while you are writing. Don't edit anything out. Write as fast as you can without planning what you are going to say.
8. Write an essay without any / adjectives / nouns / adverbs
9. Describe an object without naming it
10. "Pure" theory: no reference to any speficic poem or work: "the text" ...
11. Dialog.
12. Make a tape transcription of your voice.