Underworld Poetics: Writing from Other Dimensions
[note: you can find a pdf of this syllabus in the class files]
Underworld Poetics: Writing from Other Dimensions
Autumn 2017—TuTh 1:30-3:20—MEB 243
July Hazard—Office: PDL B102-B—Office hours: Tu 3:30-5
Visionary poets can stand in strange relation to the world. Some come from or speak from another world. Others inhabit worlds that are illuminated, haunted, or transparent. Some recount travel between layers of reality, or report enhanced encounters with animals, plants, and other beings. This class explores ways some writers cross into and write out of other dimensions—including punk clubs, gay underworlds, subway tunnels, fleabag hotels, outer space, undersea civilizations, angelic and demonic realms.
We will read and discuss poetry and supporting media, from Dickinson to Anzaldúa, Rimbaud to Drexciya, attending to our sources’ perception and cultivation of more-than-human entanglements. Our texts will be wide-ranging, troubling, shifty, and strange; they are often uncomfortable works by people who are/were themselves very uncomfortable. An open approach to these works will require us to respect difficult questions and attend to terrible histories, and to care deeply for the differences, insights, and wounds of others.
This class will be part seminar and part writing practicum. I ask all class members to hold space for engaged conversation and focused writing, and to cultivate attention and deliberate presence. One method we will employ to this end is keeping the classroom “longhand” and avoiding the use of laptops and other electronic devices (unless you need them, of course—meet with me if you do, and we will work something out).
Underworld Poetics course reader (hereafter UPCR), at Rams Copy, 4144 University Way NE
Simon Ortiz, from Sand Creek
Alice Notley, The Descent of Alette
CA Conrad, ECODEVIANCE
Bhanu Kapil, Humanimal
Will Alexander, Above the Human Nerve Domain
Two notebooks, about the size of a classic composition book
Colored pencils, pens, paints, or markers
Glue or gluestick
You will devote one notebook to an illustrated/illuminated journal of the other-dimensional work you undertake over the course of this class. You’ll compose some entries during class time. You’ll add at least 2 entries each week outside of class.
You will devote one notebook to a double-entry journal of the course readings. This notebook should contain at least one entry for every reading.
You will submit weekly reading responses online via Canvas. I will give you specific prompts for these writings.
You will visit me at least once during office hours. The choice of what our meeting will focus on is yours! Perhaps you have some work you’d like to discuss, or some research ideas, or a question or concern about our class.
In week 6, you will submit a written proposal for your final project.
Underworld poet’s statement
You will compose a 750-1000 word poet’s statement, accompanied by an annotated bibliography. This statement will draw on course readings, outside sources, and your own experience. We’ll talk more about building this statement over the quarter.
Performative or portable otherworld
You will undertake to produce and guide others through either A) a performative underworld/otherworld installation made in collaboration with a group of classmates, or B) a solo construction of some kind of portable underworld/otherworld. Either option will include your written documentation of methods, theory, and findings.
20% Reading responses
25% Final projects
Participation entails thoughtful, consistent, lively engagement with course materials, with writing work, and with one another. Please come to class prepared, having finished the readings and ready to talk about them. Please talk, listen, and collaborate with openness and respect. If you aren’t sure how to participate strongly and visibly, meet with me in office hours to talk about it.
Access and accommodations
Your experience in this class is important to me; also, it is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.
If you experience barriers to access due to a temporary health condition or permanent disability (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), and require accommodations, please contact Disability Resources for Students (DRS) at 425-352-5307 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have already established accommodations with DRS, please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.
DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s), and DRS.
Do not plagiarize! Do not present others’ words or ideas as your own. Do not assist anyone else in doing this. UW code on academic misconduct is spelled out here: http://www.washington.edu/admin/rules/policies/SGP/SPCH209.html#7
and expanded on here: https://depts.washington.edu/pswrite/plag.html.
I have also uploaded the University’s statement on Academic Responsibility to our Canvas site. Anytime you are unsure of your practices, talk to me or to a writing studio tutor, librarian, or other knowledgeable authority.
Interdisciplinary Writing Studio
I encourage you to use this super resource. Here’s their self-description, pulled from https://chid.washington.edu/writing-center:
The Interdisciplinary Writing Studio (located in Smith Hall 113B) offers tutoring sessions for students working on projects in AES, AIS, CHID, GEOG, and GWSS. Our tutors have experience writing and tutoring in these departments and can work with you on all aspects of writing and research from brainstorming and planning, through writing and revising. All kinds of projects are welcome: reading responses; reflections; creative pieces; research papers, literature reviews; position statements; fellowship, job, or graduate school applications; and more! We can talk with you about drafts, research strategies, disciplinary expectations, and finding your own voice in writing.
Schedule an appointment: email@example.com or use this link: https://geography.washington.edu/interdisciplinary-writing-studio
Week 0: Welcome
Week 1: Extreme Presence
Tu 10-3 CA Conrad, ECODEVIANCE and UPCR
Th 10-5 UPCR: Rimbaud 1, Dickinson (#125, 327, 328, 593, 657, 783, 963, 1084, 1739)
Week 2: Under the City
Tu 10-10 Notley, The Descent of Alette; Ginsberg (handout)
Th 10-12 Delany (handout); UPCR: Wojnarowicz 1, Kinnell
Week 3: The Surreal
Tu 10-17 UPCR: André Breton; Joyce Mansour, Robert Desnos (handout)
Th 10-19 Will Alexander, Above the Human Nerve Domain
Week 4: Nepantla
Tu 10-24 Gloria Anzaldúa (handout)
Th 10-26 Edouard Glissant (handout)
Week 5: Mortal Awareness & the Dead
Tu 10-31 UPCR: Satipatthana, David Wojnarowicz 2
Th 11-2 UPCR: James Merrill
Week 6: Hauntology & Transgenerational Trauma……………………Project proposals due Th 11-9
Tu 11-7 UPCR: M. NourbeSe Philip, Christina Sharpe; Dionne Brand (handout)
Th 11-9 Simon Ortiz, from Sand Creek; Joy Harjo (handout)
Wk 7: The Trace
Tu 11-14 UPCR: Muñoz
Th 11-16 Bhanu Kapil, Humanimal
Wk 8: Outer Space & Under Sea
Tu 11-21 Sun Ra, Drexciya, Ellen Gallagher
Th 11-23 NO CLASS
Wk 9: Struggles with Demons & the Abode of Nectar…………….Notebooks due in class Th 11-30
Tu 11-28 UPCR: Milarepa, Evagrios, Rimbaud 2
Th 11-30 UPCR: Lalla Ded, Kabir
Wk 10: Project Presentations
Tu 12-5 Presentations
Th 12-7 Presentations
Finals Week: NO CLASS………………………Final written projects due by MIDNIGHT Su 12-10
Visionary poets can stand in strange relation to the world. Some come from or speak from another world. Others inhabit worlds that are illuminated, haunted, or transparent. Some recount travel between layers of reality, or report enhanced encounters with animals, plants, and other beings. This class explores ways some writers cross into and write out of other dimensions—including punk clubs, gay underworlds, subway tunnels, fleabag hotels, outer space, undersea civilizations, angelic and demonic realms. We will read and discuss poetry and supporting texts, from Dickinson to Anzaldúa, Rimbaud to Drexciya, attending to writers' perception and cultivation of more-than-human entanglements. Class writings will probe poetic relations to natural and social environments, via automatic writing, somatic composition, text collage, and other techniques. Students will keep illustrated journals of their otherworldly engagements, and develop underworld poets’ statements. The performative “final exam” project consists of improvising an underworld together.