Prose and Its Discontents: The History and Practice of Aversive Prose
The seminar will examine an abbreviated history of exceptional approaches to essays in prose while at the same time focusing on a set of prose experiments by seminar participants. 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. Other works that will frame the discussion include Frame Analysis by Erving Goffman, Ways of Seeing by John Berger, Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff, The Emergence of Prose by Kittay/Godzitch, Theory of Prose by Viktor Shklovski, and "Attic Prose" & "The Baroque Style in Prose" by Morris Croll. Also on the agenda (subject to change!) samples from Heraklitus, Lucretius , Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Montaigne, Emerson, Wilde's Critic as Artist , Wlliams's Spring and All, Wittgenstein, Cage's "Lecture on Nothing," Olson's Berkeley talk, Haroldo de Campos's Galáxias, David Antin's talk poems, Samuel R. Delany's Motion of Light in the Water, Bernadette Mayer's Memory, Rosmarie Waldrop's Reproduction of Profile, Ron Silliman's "new sentence," Clark Coolidge's "prosoid" works, Jerome McGann's dialogs, Leslie Scalapino's essays, Susan Howe's Spontaneous Particulars: The Telepathy of Archives, and Nathaniel Mackey's From A Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate. PLUS: Seminar visits by Michale Davidson and Al Filreis. Working versions of the syllabus will be posted athttp://www.writing.upenn.edu/bernstein/syllabi/prose.html.