Queer Poetics, Spring 2018

Queer Poetics
English 411, Section 2
Spring 2018
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Credits: 3
Graduate Credit: 50%

Students who do not meet the requirements may submit a writing sample to Ron Kuka no later than November 19. Writing samples should be between five and fifteen pages long, and submitted as an email attachment to rfkuka at wisc dot edu. Samples of creative writing are preferred but not required; applicants may also submit hybrid or critical/analytical writing, or a combination of types of works- anything that gives me a sense of who you are, how you think and write, and your relationship to language and/or queerness.

Queer-Poetics-ENG411-SP18 (1)

Taught by: Oliver Baez Bendorf

Course Description: This course is a workshop on formal experimentation, lyric possibility, and queer methods of making meaning. One way to define Poetics, as Roland Barthes suggested, is as the study of “how meaning is possible, at what cost and by what means.” Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick defined Queer as “the open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning when the constituent elements of anyone’s gender, of anyone’s sexuality aren’t made (or can’t be made) to signify monolithically.” Students will work at this juncture of Queer Poetics through close reading and creative and critical responses.

Students will follow a creative writing practice of their own design, and be able to articulate a poetics out of that practice. In addition, each week we will explore a particular set of texts and together map what we can learn from that combination about Queer Poetics. Texts will include poetry and essays on poetics, along with films, archival sources, and hybrid texts. We will study a range of poetry in relation to its queer possibility, and examine its participation in and/or resistance to literary traditions and the certainty of formal and categorical boundaries. How is queer meaning made? What roles do power, desire, and identity play in these practices?

(Please note: you do not have to identify as queer, or as any other such non-normative sexual/gender identity, to take or succeed in this class; you do need to maintain a genuine openness to the intellectual, critical, and creative possibilities of queerness. This openness will be evident through the written assignments you complete, as well as in the verbal dialogue you engage in with your classmates.)

Readings are likely to include poetry by Agha Shahid Ali, Rane Arroyo, Trish Salah, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Carl Phillips, Essex Hemphill, and TC Tolbert, along with essays/critical works by José Esteban Muñoz, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Gertrude Stein, Kathy Acker, Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldua, and others.

About the Instructor: Oliver Baez Bendorf is the author of The Spectral Wilderness, selected by Mark Doty for the Stan & Tom Wick Poetry Prize and named a finalist for the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. He has received fellowships and awards from Vermont Studio Center, Lambda Literary Foundation, New American Poets/Poetry Society of America, and University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned an MFA and MLIS. His work has been anthologized in Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics. He is the 2017-2018 Halls Emerging Artist Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.

Pre-Reqs: ENGL 207, 307, 407, 408, 409, 410, 411, or 511. Or, ENGLISH 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306 taken prior to Fall 2014. Students who do not meet the requirements may submit a writing sample to Ron Kuka no later than November 19. Writing samples should be between five and fifteen pages long, and submitted as an email attachment to rfkuka at wisc dot edu. Samples of creative writing are preferred but not required; applicants may also submit hybrid or critical/analytical writing, or a combination of types of works.

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