HNRC 101 Sherwood


Class Meetings

  • 11:15am-12:05 pm MF
  • 11:00am-12:15 pm TR

Davis Hall 309. / Great Hall (All: Tuesdays) / Outdoors (Weather Permitting). Additional Covid-19 Meeting Details

Course Documents


Team B in Davis; Team A via Zoom

Discussing Cage

  • Response (subjective, emotional, gut) What makes 4'33“ such a challenge - External Link? How did you respond? And what do yo think of the audience reaction?
  • Argument (does making a case for Good/Bad require first establishing a context?) What is Dodd's argument, criteria, and conclusion? Is it persuasive? Where might you differ (or what other argument could be made?). Dodd Ted Talk (15 min).
    • Does it make a difference if we consider that Cage might have been aware of the concerns / criteria Dodd offers … and that he composed this piece of music in this fashion anyways?
  • Good/Bad - value (Would we go through a similar process to decide on its value (i.e. if it is good/bad)?)
  • (Bonus - do other Cage music pieces provoke the same problems?)


Read and comment on two John Cage poems in Perusall. Not required, but if you are interested, the critic Marjorie Perloff includes a portion of an essay (later included in her book) in which she analyzes Cage's mesostics.


All in the Great Hall.

Unanswered question from Monday: 'Good/Bad - Value (Would we go through a similar process to Dodd's in oorrder to decide on the value of 4' 33“ (i.e. if it is good/bad)?)

Today we will discuss a text John Cage called a poem “25 Mesostics for Mark Tobey.”

  1. What is a mesostic?
  2. How is it composed? (And how does that complicate our seeing it as a poem or does it?)

Inclass Writing 5 min

Mesostic (chance) poem - Choose a seed phrase. Google a source text. Create a brief mesostic. Post it via Our Class Notebook (collaboration space)

  1. How does knowing the method (intention) behind this text effect our reading of it?
  2. Is it a poem?
  3. Could it be a good poem? And how would know?

Group Brainstorming (channel Prof Dodd's Ted Talk):

What are the criterion for a poem? :

  1. Uses creative(rich) language
  2. Expresses a theme (as received by a reader)
  3. Innovates (breaks rules or otherwise surprises)

What are the criterion for a good poem? :

  1. ?
  2. ?
  3. ?

Apply criteria to Cage's mesostic poems.


For Thursday, please read from “The Blind Man” the sections on pp 4-6, and 8 via Perusall; watch this short video on The Fountain.

Be ready to discuss the questions of 1) What traditional criteria were used to dismiss “The Fountain” and what new criteria allow it now to be celebrated. 2) How do evaluations of this piece get made (think back to Barbara Hernstein Smith).

2020/10/19 01:14 · admin