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The Poetics of Identity: Textual - Aesthetic - Social - Technological

ENGL 795.401

An investigation of the multiple senses of identity for poetry, poetics, and literary scholarship. Starting with a preliminary look at conceptions of idenity in Poe, Hawthorne and Freud, the seminar will frame its considerations in terms of the frame analysis of Erving Goffman, Geroge Lakoff, and John Berger. Poetics of translation will be addressed via Yunte Huang and Walter Benjamin, as well as Pound and Zukofsky. The relation of language, ideology, gender, and identity will be considered through readings of Basil Bernstein on class codes in speech, as well as Luce Irigaray, Rosmarie Waldrop, and Nicole Brossard. Textual scholarship and the identity of the poem will be taken up via a study of Emily Dickinson’s holographs vs printed version of her poems, paying special attention to Susan Howe’s advocacy of “sumptuary values.” The status of the object of art (whether its identity is intrinsic, extrinsic, or in-between) will be taken up via Duchamp, Michael Fried, Robert Smithson, and Samuel Delany on Hart Crane. One session will focus on Jewish secular/ethnic identity. Two seminars will be spent on Gertrude Stein and the play of identity, looking also into recent controversies about her World War 2 years. There will also be case studies of poets, including possibly Robert Grenier (class visit), Larry Eigner, Melvin Tolson, Langston Hughes, Audre Lord, Adrienne Rich, David Antin, Tan Lin, Lyn Hejinian, and Caroline Bergvall. 

For more information, consult the syllabus ( which is and will remain under construction.

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