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Writing Toward Diaspora

ENGL 127.401
Wednesday 2:00-5:00pm

Wandering creates the desert.

             —Edmond Jabès

What is the relationship between writing and diaspora? This trans-genre workshop will move through a series of key diasporic texts, from ancient times to the present, asking students to respond to these works in their own language—with an emphasis on reading and writing across genre—through poem, essay, story and translation. Together, as a writing community, we will constellate a number of difficult, pressing questions around our collective work, including: what is our relationship as writers to urgent issues of diasporic statelessness in the contemporary moment? What are the implications of diaspora in art? The stakes of diaspora in art? Who gets to speak & who gets spoken for? How and where does language serve as a boundary/border defying medium? How and where are boundaries/borders reinforced and reified in language? Class sessions will incorporate a mixture of open communal discussion and paired-learning, and will engage with the intersubjectivities of the texts we read, write and translate by interpreting and workshopping them alongside one another.​ Texts we will be considering include: The Hebrew Bible (selections), The Vedas (selections), Homer's Odyssey (selections), various Qasida​s​ (​pre-Islamic ​Arabic​verse​),​The Babylonia Talmud (selections),​Shakespeare's The Tempest, Spinoza's The Ethics (selections), Rebbe Nachman's Stories, Claude Mckay's Constab Ballads, Mina Loy's Anglo Mongrels and the Rose,​Louis Zukofsky's "Poem Beginning 'The"',​Aimé Césaire's, Notebook of Return from a Native Land, Eric Lamming's, The Pleasures of Exile, Edmond Jabès's, The Book of Questions, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictee and Pierre Joris's, A Nomad Poetics, among others. No prior literary​/writing​experience required.  

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