Monday

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?)

Homework

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.


Tuesday

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)

Are these also the criterion for a good poem?

Apply criteria to Cage's mesostic poems.

Homework

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).


Thursday

The Blind Man, Duchamp

Intro/ Background: What is the role of a literary journal, and how does this journal relate to Duchamp's confrontation with the Society Des Independents over “The Foundation”? Consider how the intention behind it, the form or making of the work itself, and the reception can be places where value is assigned.

Art society? Urinal (and propriety) ? Readymade?

Rejection, Evaluation, Celebration of "The Fountain"

1) What traditional criteria were used to dismiss “The Fountain” and

1b) what new criteria allow it now to be celebrated?

2) How do evaluations of this piece get made (think back to Barbara Hernstein Smith)?

3) Do we have the same problems (as with Dodd on 4'33”, i.e. that it doesn't “fit” with our basic qualification)?

4) What do we make of the defense in Blind Man (Buddha of the Bathroom) or the attack (Letter from a Mother)?

Poetry in the Blind Man

How do the poems in this magazine resonate with “The Fountain?” What does Frank Crownshiled's letter ( p 10) or MIna Loy's untitled statement ( page 13 ) add to the idea of the goals of this project? How does Alfred Stieglitz' letter against prizes and juries relate to value?

Close reading of a poem from Blind Man

Homework

I'd like you to consider the pieces in the Blind Man as models of a different kind of “good poetry.” You might especially look at Mina Loy's conversational transcription (Page 14. Can you make a transcription that is poetic? ). There's also a well known poem by Duchamp himself that seems like it could have been included in the magazine, a kind of erasure poem.

Write (or make) a piece that might have been suitable to include in this magazine if we were taking this class in 1917. (Here's an erasure poem I made for class last year, two of my favorites from students in the class Amanda and Anonymous and a collection of erasure poems made by unit b last year. Upload a file or picture to MS Teams along with a brief statement about what you were trying to do.


Friday

Discussion of student poems.

Teams Link

  • Small group reading
    • Choose one poem from your group that is 'good'
  • Reflection (composing an 'experimental' poem) - what is it like?
    • Consider how the intention behind it, the form or making of the work itself, and the reception can be places where value is assigned.
    • How does the author begin making value judgments? How does the group make evaluation?

Homework

We'll read one more general, critical essay to help us think about Value in literature. This selection from critic Terry Eagleton's book should connect for you with B H Smith, but gets further into the detail of the problems of the “who” and “how” of evaluation.

For homework please read pp. 1-20 in Perusall. Your prompt will be to ask and answer each others' comprehension questions.

On Monday you will re-read sections, and on Tuesday, in groups, I will ask you to lead discussion along the following outline: Outline for class discussion on Eagleton