This course will examine the work of writers who made social change happen -- both by contributing to revolutionary movements, and, in less overt ways, by pushing against existing conventions. By engaging in high stakes writing experiments that rejected elitism, nationalism, racism, and homophobia, these writers changed our sense of what is possible, both as artists and human creatures. We will study, for example, "New Left" poetry, and the Black Arts movement. We will read works by a wide range of writers, including Gwendolyn Brooks, Raul Zurita, Edmond Jabes, and Gertrude Stein, as well as several writers currently working in the realm of experimental, politically engaged literary arts. During the quarter, our meetings will consist of weekly seminars, lectures, and “language labs”—times for brainstorming, rehearsing, and trying out language experiments. Guest artists will also come to work with us. By the end of the quarter students will have a portfolio of writing experiments and will spend several weeks producing and revising a longer project. Many of the writers studied in this course will be poets, but students may produce a final project in any genre.
Synchronous class sessions (approximately 4 hours per week) will take place on Zoom. However, if students find themselves unable to participate due to technology issues, caregiving obligations, economic disruption, health risk, or illness, faculty will work with them to make sure they have options for earning related credit.
Course Reference Numbers
Arts, activism, graduate study