Universität Augsburg, 2017

This seminar provokes conventional assumptions about modern and postmodern literature of modernity, which are often denounced as obscure, alienated from lived experience, and elitist. We focus on non-fictional prose texts, a marginalized genre in literary research, which offers a key insight: Authors ranging from W.E.B. DuBois to Ly Hejinian experiment with the relation between literary and metaphoric language, and conceptual critique. They create texts balancing on the borderlines between poetry and political praxis. This poetics-as-practice has parallels in French Symbolism, as well as in the “thought image” tradition of the Frankfurt School, and develops modes of reading, wriitng and thinking against and beyond the ideological complicity of language.

We disucss, therefore, how language and textual form can be political in their own right.

At the same time, this seminar offers insights  into the work of key authors of the 20th century, focusing on US-American literature, but opening up a transatlantic network of relations that includes French and German texts.

Introductory Reading:

Michel Delville. 1998. Introduction to The American Prose Poem: Poetic Form and the Boundaries of Genre. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.

Jacques Derrida and Avital Ronell. 1980. “The Law of Genre.” Critical Inquiry 7, 1 (Autumn 1980) 55-81.

Gerhard Richter. 2007. Introduction to Thought-Images: Frankfurt School WritersReflections From Damaged Life. Stanford University Press.

Primary Reading – Excerpts from:

Charles Baudelaire. 1869. Paris Spleen. Little Poems in Prose.

Theodor W. Adorno. 2003. Minima Moralia. Reflexionen aus dem beschädigten Leben. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Ernst Bloch. 2016. Erbschaft dieser Zeit. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Mina Loy. 2011. Stories and Essays of Mina Loy. Edited by Sara Crangle. Dublin and London: Dalkey Archive Press.

William Carlos Williams. 2015. Spring and All. Mansfield Centre, CT: Martino Publishing.

Gertrude Stein. 1941. Tender Buttons. Taken from the Norton Anthology of American Literature, edited by Nina Baym, London and New York: Norton and Company.

Richard Wright. 2008. Twelve Million Black Voices. New York: Basic Books.

Jack Kerouac. 1985. Old Angel Midnight. Midnight Press.

Lyn Hejinian. 2002. My Life. Taken from Postmodern American Poetry. A Norton Anthology, edited by Paul Hoover, London and New York: Norton and Company.

Ron Silliman. 1981. Tjanting. Taken from Postmodern American Poetry. A Norton Anthology, edited by Paul Hoover, London and New York: Norton and Company.

Nathaniel Mackey. 2010. From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate: Volume 1-3. New Direction Publishing.

Claudia Rankine. 2015. Citizen. An American Lyric. Penguin Books.

Douglas Kearney. 2015. Mess and Mess and. Noemi Press, Inc.