Teaching

“Jerome Rothenberg’s Ethnopoetics and Other Migrations into English: Indigenous, Immigrant, and Multilingual American Poetry”  Free online course –February 8 to March 4, 2020. 

I’m teaching a “slopo” season course this winter/spring 2020 for Coursera and Al Filreis’s Modern and Contemporary Poetry class.  You can jump in at any point. To get to the course page, you’ll need to register on Coursera as a student (for free – and the class and materials are free). 

Please email modpo@writing.upenn.edu as soon as you have a chance to express your interest and get on the course news email list, which I’ll be relying on to convey to you important course news and information. 

Before February 8, please stop by the course’s dedicated area on the ModPo website and just say hello; feel free to offer any introduction to yourself and/or your thoughts about the course!  Starting on February 8, that’s also where you will go to access the Week One material and find the discussion forums. The actual link to the course’s homebase is https://www.coursera.org/learn/modpo/discussions/forums/yR5RvK-EEeaElQ6tBsFbjg 

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This year’s class will be focusing on non-European traditions and emergent poetries in or translated into English, using as a starting point Jerome Rothenberg’s anthology of American-Indian poems (mostly) in translation, SHAKING THE PUMPKIN: Traditional Poetry of the Indian North Americans, as a starting point. We will discuss Rothenberg’s concept of “ethnopoetics” and consider the quandaries of putting oral tradition and place-based performance onto the printed page.

Each poem we will read, from some angle, engages with the poetics of multilingualism and cultural collisions where conventional English cannot be taken for granted as neutral. The English language evokes its own history and summons questions of identity, selfhood, and voice to be played with and against in the crafting of the poem. How can we close read these poems without incorporating their own invocations of context and history? 

We will read contemporary various indigenous poems written primarily in English by people of descent from different tribes–Inuit, Mohawk, Kumeyaay, Navaho–from people rooted in different locations–Hawaii and Guam. We will read, listen to, and watch poetries from the post-slavery, post-colonization Caribbean, such as M. NourbeSe Philip’s “Discourse on the Logic of Language,” We will sample Kamau Brathwaite’s HISTORY OF THE VOICE and Louise Bennett-Coverley’s beloved performances of poems in Jamaican patois. We will consider poems written by African-American descendants of slaves transported by force. We will read poems written by first and second-generation immigrant poets, Asian-American, South-Asian-American, Middle-Eastern-American and Latin-American. We will consider the negotiation of identity and the ways in which these poets engage “Correct” English and Western conventions.

Other poets from among whose poems we may read: Joy Harjo, Leslie Marmon Silko, Gloria Anzaldúa, dg nanouk okpik, Heriberto Yépez, Nathaniel Mackey, Fred Moten, Morgan Parker, Gwendolyn Brooks, Claude McKay, Ocean Vuong, Craig Santos Perez, Monica Youn, Arthur Sze, Tommy Pico, Myung Mi Kim, Eduardo Corral, Jericho Brown, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Douglas Kearney, Cecilia Vicuña, Franny Choi, Sawaka Nakyasu, James Thomas Stevens, Safia Sinclair, Anne Tardos, Mark Nowak, Layli Long Soldier, Zeina Hashem, Natalie Scenters-Zapico, Mahealani Perez-Wendt, Li-Young Li, Brandy Nālani McDougall, Dan Taulapapa McMullin, Divya Victor, and Lillian Allen.

You will have the option of writing a poem in a poetic form, the ghazal, popularized in the United States and written in English by the Kashmiri immigrant poet Agha Shahid Ali — a poetic form that has impact on questions of voice. The ghazal is not from the British and American traditions but is a form that developed in Arabic and Persian with its own strict rules that one might find disorienting or not, ours to freely adopt, or adapt to, or with it hybridize. We will be meta-poetically aware of a poem as an active site of resistance and emergence. We will pay attention to how a poem enacts, performs, struggles and negotiates with the ever-ongoing flux of such concepts as voice and self, identity and language.

This course is something that you will enjoy–the poems and issues they raise are thrilling. Use the course in whatever way you’d like! You can just read samples or the full array of freely available course poems and text, you can dip into the discussion forums and read along with the ongoing discussion, or you can fully dive in, posting your own responses to the poems and to other students’ comments — ultimately the course’s ethical foundation is collaborative, open learning developed through interactive discussion. Optimally, you should read what’s already posted in response to a topic or poem and engage what has been raised, be part of the conversation, as well as adding your own new observations, experiences, and questions about the poems. But simply do what you can. The best approach is the one that fits you most comfortably depending on your available time. 

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Part of the MOOC Modern and Contemporary Poetry (off-season)
March-April 2019

Mina Loy, Barbara Guest, and Alice Notley: The New York School and the Body of the Poem

There is no poem without form, yet often the assumed body of the voice behind the poem is a straight male one. Dickinson intervened, writing without restraint but within constraints tilted at through her open dashes, opening spaces of possibility for the reader. The queer male poets of the New York School intervened, playing with subjectivity and assumptions about voice and desire. In this course, we will look at three poets who open the body of the poem, who craft deep explorations and creations from the limits of form and gendered expectations, the voice, the senses, and embodiment. Among other works, we will read (proto-NYSchool) poet Loy’s “Partuition,” a poem about pregnancy and giving birth, Guest’s poems in which she builds open, dynamic structures from words, and Alice Notley’s astonishing feminist epic poem The Descent of Alette. We will read a few pieces of feminist writing, that is to say, these poems, along with a few portions of other material. Along with robust discussion of the poems in the forums, the instructor will hold facebook live sessions twice a week (which one the student attends based on what works best with that student’s schedule) to foster ModPo’s active, open collaborative discussion.

JOIN US HERE:   https://www.coursera.org/learn/modpo/discussions/forums/tWo5SiMaEemC-gptM5usaA?sort=lastActivityAtDesc&page=1&q= 

ENGL 102.601 / crosslisted as: CIMS 112:  THE UNCANNY IN LITERATURE AND FILM – HAUNTED PLACES.

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Angela Deane ‘untitled (ghost photograph no. 128)

Ghosts, spirits, the undead, trauma, memories that refuse to pass; all these manifestations evoke in us the complex concept of the uncanny. In literature and film, encounters with uncanny phenomena disorient us from comforting assumptions about the safety and integrity of “home,” whether that be a particular house, a particular building, or the reliability of the ground and material world itself.  The paradoxical appeal of the uncanny is undeniable; at a secure distance, experience of the uncanny induces a kind of pleasure, a spine-chilling tour through our own deep and discomforting fears, allowing us to experience and dismiss them. Beyond the haunted houses of Poltergeist, The Conjuring, The Haunting, all of which we will enter, experience, and analyze, we will go on to explore broader literary and cinematic spaces that have become saturated with the presence of threat and loss, place shaken by war and genocide, violent memory forcing its way into the present–places where lingering spirits dwell among us. As well, ghosts might be actively summoned, as in the Plains Indians Ghost Dance religion. How can we interpret the ways in which such tales and histories are (un)resolved, in terms of family, gender, ethnicity, culture, such as in the novel Beloved? Through our study of the concept and impact of the uncanny, we will come to better understand the architecture not only of the story and film itself, but of the way we go on living in our own lives in the aftermath of tragedy and uncertainty. The class will visit Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia and confront our own weird fascinations and fears amid cells that held lives long past. Further materials to be consider will include episodes of American Horror Story, the film Goodnight, Mommy, Elephant,  Night and Fog, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, the BBC series In the Flesh, public memorial structures and artworks such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the AIDS quilt, as well as the cinematic projections that give presence to the dead among the living.

Spring 2017 – March 1-28.  “Frank O’Hara” – A free and public online mini-class through Coursera and Al Filreis’s MOOC:  Modern & Contemporary American Poetry .  The course and discussion will continue as long as it remains live on the website on the main O’Hara course page.

Spring 2017: Courses at the University of Pennsylvania

ENGL261.001: Bad Kids: Misfits and Mayhem in Literature and Film 
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Are minors presumed guilty, threatening, spoiled, presumed ready to rumble, already-sexualized, unpredictable, violent, lazy, wild, resistant to potty training? Are some kids inherently bad on some genetic or other level compared to their peers? What disciplinary methods and restrictions have been thought appropriate to shape a child, and what role is education imagined to play? When did the category of the kid, the child, emerge? To address these questions, this intimate class will provide a rich immersion in the history of childhood and the literature of child development and psychoanalysis, working our way through texts by Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, Jean Piaget, D.W. Winnicott, and Adam Phillips. En route, we will meet a whole range of kids: from those who spy, to those with active imaginations, to the sexually precocious, to the bullies and the bullied, to those who befriend vampires, to those who use automatic weapons to kill fellow schoolmates, to the disabled, to those who lack language. We will consider the cultural presentation of childhood in recent films, novels, documentaries and news coverage. Particular works we will consider will be chosen from such films, television shows, and novels as Sesame Street, The 500 Blows, Heathers, Elephant, Kids, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Bully, My Own Private Idaho, The Bad Seed, Thirteen, Let the Right One In, Where the Wild Things Are, South Park, the BBC’s Skins, Menace II Society, Les Enfants Terrible, Sarah: A Novel, The Story of the Eye, A High Wind in Jamaica, Beloved, Cavedweller, Peter Pan, Harriet the Spy, The Exorcist, In Youth Is Pleasure, and Mary Poppins, among a number of others. Above all, this course will ask each student what is gained and what is lost when a child learns right from wrong, when independence and order are imagined to be obtained at childhood’s end. Students will be required to write weekly reading/viewing responses, complete two brief exams, and to design a final project involving research.

ENGL088.301:
20th and 21st Century American Poetry

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Language laps formatively at the borders of both nations and selves. At the opening of the 20th century, various strands of modernism transformed poetry. The idea of what poetry should do, of what it was, impacted various locations and brought together various communities, both poetic and language-bound. We will explore the ways in which modernism(s) challenged relations between language, self, and world, as poets experimented with words’ capabilities and limits in ways that continue to influence and shape the horizons of contemporary poetry and literary arts. Meanwhile, other traditions persist. In some places, several languages exist in complex relation to one another. In order to gain a sense of poetry across the continent, we will bring close attention to poems written by poets from the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada, and from various Native American tribes, considering the the oral tradition and the impact and possibility of translation and the circulation of language within and across borders, along with the ways in which race, heritage, sexuality, and gender influence and inflect voice and reception. Above all, we will pour our close attention though open, collaborative readings on selected individual poems, becoming confident readers of poetry with full permission to explore and experience works as unique, informed readers, remaining sensitive to all of the properties of language and the potentials unleashed when words constellate together. Students will gain an understanding of various historical movements up to the present, including current practice and circulation among audiences through performance and publication. Poets whose work may be encountered include Hart Crane, Ezra Pound, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Mina Loy, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, Aimé Césaire, Allen

Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara, Robert Duncan, John Ashbery, Harryette Mullen, Sylvia Plath, Leslie Marmon Silko, Jerome Rothenberg, Anne Carson, Frank Stanford, Christian Bök, Kamau Braithwaite, Derek Walcott, Nancy Morejòn, Alice Notley, Teresa Hak Kyung Cha, M. Nourbese Philip, Monica Youn, and Claudia Rankine, among many others. Creative responses, several brief papers, and a final project will be required.

Fall 2016 at Upenn:

Creative Writing {Poetry and Fiction}

We will be going on adventures and writing poems, fiction, and mashups of the two. Students’ work will be carefully and attentively workshopped by the class – as well we will discuss some innovative works in the genre(s) such as CITIZEN by Claudia Rankine, SOLIBO MAGNIFICENT by Patrick Chamoiseaux, AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF RED by Anne Carson, FAIR PLAY by Tove Jansson, and STORY OF YOUR LIFE AND OTHER STORIES by Ted Chiang.

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Summer 2016 at UPenn:

Creative Writing {Poetry and Nonfiction}

We will be going on adventures and writing poems, essays, and mashups of the two. Students’ work will be carefully and attentively workshopped by the class – as well we will discuss some innovative works in the genre(s) such as CITIZEN by Claudia Rankine, THE ARGONAUTS by Maggie Nelson, AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF RED by Anne Carson, THE SUMMER BOOK by Tove Jansson, — and other contemporary hybrid works.

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I am teaching two classes in Spring 2016 at UPenn

ENG 088: Twentieth-Century American Poetry

20th Century American Poetry

ENGL 102 601 (2016A)This  fast-paced course will provide an immersion in a diverse and exuberant array of American poetry.  We will consider the poem as an artwork made out of words, and specifically, in this case, words of the English language, asking, immediately, “how does a poem work?” as well as, more broadly, “what does it mean to make art out of English?” and “what are the stakes of a poem for various 20th-century United States citizen

 

s?”  We will consider individual poems through careful, close readings, but we will also put poems into context, considering the poem in relation to historical events and the surrounding media such as 20th century painting, cinema, television and the internet. We will consider the poem as an object embedded in a rapidly changing world in which language matters in terms of identity and gender, commerce and desire. Who is speaking in the poem? Authors may include Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Hart Crane, William Carlos Williams, Ronald Johnson, Lorine Niedecker, Jack Spicer, Rae Armantrout, Leslie Marmon Silko, Frank O’Hara, Langston Hughes, Agha Shahid Ali, Claudia Rankine, among many others,  Above all, students will gain an understanding of central themes and issues in 20th-American poetry and will learn about the properties of language as an art-making medium. Both creative exercises and scholarly work will be requir

The Uncanny in Literature:  Haunted Houses and Habitats

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Angela Deane ‘untitled (ghost photograph no. 128)

We begin by entering the haunted house of literature and film and with Freud’s essay on the “uncanny”: the domestic transformed by the presence and return of something strange. The appeal of the uncanny is undeniable; we will both enjoy the weird and yet also think beyond the thrill and spookiness to grasp what is at stake in such tales–for our own experience of our own domesticity, our lived environments, and our own sense of home.Not only in dwellings designed and built, we will go on to explore literary and cinematic spaces that have become saturated with the presence of threat and loss, of repressed memory that insists on returning, forcing its way into the present–places where lingering spirits dwell among the living. Such tales reveal our anxieties about security and familiarity, and they perhaps ease these through exposure. How can we interpret the ways in which such tales are resolved, in terms of family, gender, ethnicity, culture and the lingering presence of architecture and landscape itself? Through a study of the architecture of the haunted place, we will come to better understand the architecture not only of the story and film itself, but of the way we go on living in our own lives in the aftermath of tragedy and uncertainty. Works to be studied will be chosen from but not limited to Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, the Winchester House in San Jose, CA, various monuments, films such as Poltergeist (Dir, Tobe Hooper 1982), The Conjuring (Dir. James Wan 2013), Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul 2010), House (Dir. Nobuhiko Ôbayashi 1977), The Spirit of the Beehive (Dir. Víctor Erice 1973), Night and Fog (Alain Resnais 1955), Hiroshima mon Amour (Dir. Alain Resnais 1959), and the television show American Horror Story. Novels, essays, nonfiction and stories may include The Turn of Screw by Henry James, Ashe of Rings by Mary Butts, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz, Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko, Ghostsby César Aira, House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, Dream Boy by Jim Grimsley, Angels in Americaby Tony Kushner, Haunted Houses by Lynne Tillman, Beloved by Toni Morrison, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Amos Tutuola, and We Wish to Inform Your Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Philip Gourevitch. We will watch Slavoj Zikek’s A Perverts Guide to Cinema (2006) as a partial guide, and we will complement our reading of these fictions and non-fictions wth selections from such works asThe Spectralities Reader: Ghosts and Haunting in Contemporary Cultural Theory, Freud’s essays “The Uncanny” and “Mourning and Melancholia,” Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism by Mike Davis,  Julie Kristeva’s Powers of HorrorSpace, Place and Gender by Doreen Massey, “Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias” by Michel Foucault,  Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History by Cathy Carruth, The National Uncanny: Indian Ghosts and American Subject by Renée L. Bergland, Space & Psyche by Elizabeth Danze and Stephen Sonnenberg, The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely by Anthony Vidler and Home: A Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybczynski.


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CINE 202 – SEEING ANIMAL

DOWNLOAD SYLLABUS:  CLICK –> SEEING ANIMAL 

“From zoos to aquariums, from the shows of Animal Planet to Jaws to the March of the Penguins to Happy Feet, why do people long to be able to witness and gaze upon the figures and experiences of animals in both documentary and narrative cinema, television, and video? What hopes and fears do we project upon the animal, what do with learn from the animal? Cinema traces its roots back to two key inquiries into animal motion by Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne-Jules Marey. We will move from those early innovators to interrogate a number of films that foreground the lives of animals, such as those that foreground animal consciousness and endangerment, such as Blackfish, asking what might be the difficulties and paradoxes in doing so. Our investigation will range from videos in which cameras have been physically attached to a animal, to films where the animal is either a vortex of cuteness, such as various viral Youtube videos, life-threatening presence, as in Grizzly Man, Jaws, The Birds, saviors, as in Flipper, or all of the above, as in the rat thriller Ben. We will watch experimental films in which the question of the human in relation to the animal is central, as well as some of the recent documentaries exposing abusive treatment. How might we compare the eye of the animal to the eye of the camera? Students will be required to film animals and to discuss challenging materials across a variety of media, and to complete a research project involving medium-specificity and human-animal relations.”

 Wednesdays 6pm to 9pm.

To find out more, CONNECT TO CINEMA STUDIES AT UPENN

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Spring 2015 UPenn

ENGL 102.601 Study of a Theme: Bad Kids

DOWNLOAD SYLLABUS:  CLICK –>bad_kids_syllabus

ENGL 261.601 Topics in 20th-Century Literature: Animal Tales

DOWNLOAD SYLLABUS:  CLICK –>animaltalessyllabus

Summer 2014 Upenn

ENGL 075.920 Science and Fiction

An article from Penn Frontiers about the class. 

Fall 2013 at UPenn

Spring 2013 at UPenn

 

And an article about a class I taught at the University of Arizona Poetry Center in 2004:

Poetry Audio/Visual 

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Photo: Evan Caravelli

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