Posts Tagged ‘my nerves are bad tonight. yes bad.’

Some Final Notes

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
  • This blog will close for graded work on Saturday, April 27, at midnight.   Except for your final paper and presentation, no work will be accepted for grading after this time.
  • Your final paper should be submitted to me ELECTRONICALLY (note that this is a change), as an email attachment or google docs link, not one minute later than NOON on Tuesday, April 30.  My comments and your grade will be returned to you by email.
  • Our final exam presentations will be on Tuesday, April 30.  We will start at 9:00 a.m. rather than at 8:30 a.m.

Malekghassemi – Assignment B (2) – Critical Article Review

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Isun Malekghassemi / Dr. Mara Scanlon / ENGL 458 / 18 April 2013

The Separation of Lyric from Long Poem for the Sake of Theory

            In “Jorie Graham’s Subversive Poetics: Appetites of Mind, Empire-building, and the Spaces of Lyric Performativity,” Mary S. Strine analyzes the final lyric in Jorie Graham’s The End of Beauty “Imperialism” using postcolonial theory. Strine has a Ph.D. in Speech Communication from the University of Mary Washington (’72) and currently teaches Communication at the University of Utah. She has nine graduate students working on their Doctor of Philosophy dissertations under her. Strine separates her article into three distinct sections. Before I get to those sections though, I want to speak to Strine’s suggestion that Graham wants to

Sustain the self-knowledge and insights gained through imaginative engagement with the material world in accord with the romantic view of poetic language, while … de-center[ing] those insights so as to critically reveal their political entailments in relations of power and knowledge in accord with postcolonial thought. (4)

I have to say that this is problematic for me. I can believe that Graham wants to “sustain” modernist thought using romantic language while “de-center”-ing the insights one gains from doing that. I can believe that Graham reflects on power. But I can hardly believe that Graham’s intentions for The End of Beauty as a whole have much to do with political anything. This reminds me of our class discussion on whether a long poem can be read as separate lyrics, and the lyrics still maintain their integrity. In this case, Strine takes “Imperialism” out of context. I am not surprised. Most of her publications focus on cultural and intercultural texts, and performativity; of course “Imperialism” would attract her.

Strine begins “Poetic Language and the Epistemic Grounds of Lyric Encounter,” her first section, by explaining that postcolonial theorists analyze language in regard to “mastery and control over others” (4). She hones in on the theorist Edward Said’s books Orientalism (1978) and Culture and Imperialism (1993) to elaborate on postcolonial theory. Strine argues that Graham uses postcolonial theory to portray the struggle of power between different perceptions of selfhood – one of internal language requiring translation for the external world and one of understanding between the two using language.  Strine has still failed to convince me that “Imperialism” represents how one can attain much from reading The End of Beauty in a postcolonial fashion. I do agree that Graham does use language indicating a struggle between two ideas.

A bolded “Poetic Form, Lyric Performativity, and the Postcolonial Imperative” marks Strine’s next section, in which she suggests that Graham exemplifies postcolonial language in “her discussion of the challenges and possibilities of the poetic form” (6). Strine argues that Graham desires to master language to create closure while also wanting to use her poetry as a forum for discourse. The difficulty in aligning these is visible in “Imperialism,” Strine claims, saying that Graham at once invites openness to, and commands control of, meaning and new experiences. Strine states that Graham’s “poetic epistemology… relies on the processes of lyric performativity to advance and deepen her own and her reader’s experiential understanding of self and other and the interpenetrating worlds they share” (10). Strine is forcing a reading of “Imperialism” and Graham that is not fruitful. Yes, there is conflict in Graham’s writing – but if that indicates postcolonialism, then is every conflict of power actually postcolonial at its core? This is more a close reading of one of modernism’s main goals: to form a link between to opposing things, to try and fix something that feels unhinged. Graham is not creating a dogfight between ideas; she is attempting to reconcile of two seemingly dichotomous things, mastery and free discussion.

Strine’s ultimate section “Reader Positionality, Lyric Performativity, and the Public World” deals with the audience’s role in Graham’s poetry. Strine states that Graham is sensitive to the role that her readers play as an audience and that Graham uses this to “[inform] the forward motion of her poetry” (10). Strine argues that by speaking directly to her readers in her poetry, Graham entices her reader into actively participating so that they can complete her poetry. To conclude this section, Strine says that Graham’s performativity encourages her audience to include their experience in their reading while also creating an environment where readers can become aware of “the construction of self and society” (12). This section, I can get behind. Graham clearly desires an active reader for her lyrics – I believe the blanks, questions, and the breaking of the poetic wall demonstrate this. This is not directly related to her thesis, but Strine also quotes Graham’s editorial introduction of The Best American Poetry 1990 right before her final paragraph. String quotes the section in which Graham says poetry has this role of renewing language for each generation.

To conclude, Strine reiterates that Graham’s “subversive lyrics, exemplified in ‘Imperialism’” nurtures a forum for discussion of “fresh ways [to know] self and world, [and] self and other” (12). From Strine’s abstract, I was expecting more on the acts of knowing and naming in Graham. The article is not uninteresting, but I cannot use it to relate to our class discussion except for the fact that Strine separates a lyric from its home long poem to analyze it; this is a practice I disapprove of. I expected my mind to be blown from this article, and it was not. [881]

Strine, Mary S. “Jorie Graham’s Subversive Poetics: Appetites of Mind, Empire-building, and the Spaces of Lyric Performativity.” Text and Performance Quarterly 25.1 (January 2005): 3-13.

(Note: I read it from a PDF file, thus the print MLA citation. I found this article on Humanities International Complete if anybody wanted to know!)

Final Project Updates

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

I have posted a number of new items under the Final Projects tab above.

  • The conference schedule is on a drop-down subpage.
  • There is a document with advice, reminders, and information about the draft process, including your peer review process.
  • There is a peer feedback sheet that should be used to guide your responses to classmates’ papers, in addition to any comments you put in/on the actual drafts.
  • There are reminders and guidelines for final submission and the oral reports in a last document.

Next Step on Final Project Now Posted under Mysterious “Final Projects” Tab

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Variation on a Theme That Doesn’t Belong to Me

Monday, April 1st, 2013

This is just to say

 

I am working on

the annotated bib

that was due

last Thursday

 

and that

you were definitely

hoping

to receive

 

Forgive me

I am swamped

So worried

and so overnight

 

(I am sure others can relate to this… although, you all probably have gotten your work done already and are looking at this in utter disdain and disgust for my tardiness. It’s okay. I don’t mind. I’m just trying to be optimistic. FIGHT THE POWER.)

My hand message washed off but here you go anyway

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

People, I am feeling… unnerved?  dissatisfied?  disappointed?  [insert UN and DIS words] that we are struggling with Omeros so much.  It is a hard poem.  But it’s also a stunning poem.  And this is an advanced seminar.   You don’t have to like it (but thank you, Kristina!).  But you should be working harder to understand it, to think about its purpose and intention.  You should be blogging about it, even if you are posing questions.  So let’s see some better work in our last week on Walcott.

Some lingering issues:

literary/epic precursors:  We talked about the Melville exchange in class, but a few others are important to Book V as well.  What do you make of the narrator’s encounter with James Joyce (200-201) and his imaginative rendering of the Odyssey (200-204)?

What is going on with our fluid Seven Seas/Omeros/griot/shaman/London man/etc. figure?  What do the manifestations have in common?  What is the purpose of this figure in the poem?

portrait of America: In Books IV and V, we get reflections on present-day America and historical America: Boston, the American West, Native American history, the history of slavery and current race relations.  How are they portrayed individually or what is America’s role more broadly?

poem’s (in)coherence: In class, people expressed confusion about how to bring together all of the parts of this poem: Plunketts, narrator, Achille/Helen/Hector etc.  Ideas?

same old, same old:  I, too, am sick of father-son stories (thanks a lot, Shakespeare, Disney, and everything in between).  But we’ve got another.  Warwick-narrator.  Plunkett-missing son-historical Plunkett.  Afolabe-Achille.  Discuss.

language:  French creole.  English creole.  Standard English.  Anachronistic Black Dialect.  (Others?)   Are there patterns of usage?  Where and why are certain languages employed?  Also, have you noticed that nature “talks” in the poem?  Walcott repeatedly describes nature using communicative words (e.g., garrulous, talkative, cry, pass on, making signs, calligraphy); how does that fit in?

form/genre:  This is our first truly narrative long poem.  Our genre theorists talked about the influences of lyric, epic, novel, drama on the long poem.  How can we characterize Walcott’s use of these or other generic forms and expectations?

There is more but that will do.

Due Dates

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Your Reading Report on a Supplementary Long Poem is NOW due no later than 4:00 on Monday, March 18.

The directions for your Annotated Bibliography, which is due HARD COPY on Thursday, March 28, are now posted under the new tab called Final Projects.