The Postmodern Lyric: A Workshop

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How have poets in the past imagined the future of poetry? How have politics and technology radicalized poetic form throughout history? In the first half of the semester, we will closely read poets from the avant-garde tradition. We will investigate debates about experimental aesthetics in the 20th century and analyze how poems address technological and political issues, both in their thematic concerns and through formal strategies. We will begin with Dadaist and Futurist manifestos and read poems from various schools of poetry such as Negritude, Oulipo, Language School, and Conceptualists, as well as poets who fall in between those movements.  Poets we will focus on will include Gertrude Stein, Aime Cesaire, Raymond Queneau, David Antin, and Thersa Hak Kyung Cha. We will also read theorists such as Guy Debord and Nicholas Bourriaud and watch videos by Vito Acconci. In the second half of the semester, we will make our own projections on the future of poetry by reading contemporary poets such as Bhanu Khapil, Christian Hawkey, and Vanessa Place and by looking at videos and performances by contemporary artists such as Cynthia Hopkins and Paul Chan. We will investigate methods by which we can push the interactive possibilities of poetry by experimenting with interdisciplinary performance and docupoetics. In addition to reading and class discussion, students are required to write their own manifestos, complete poetic projects both on and off the page, and engage in one collaborative project.