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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2006

E 379S • Senior Seminar

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
33880 MWF
2:00 PM-3:00 PM
PAR 302

Course Description

A poem, we're told, is "a speaking picture" (ut pictura poesis); a poet is "a man speaking to men" (as in Wordsworth's somewhat gender-based formulation). But how do poems speak? How do dead letters on a white page attain voice? How is "voice" performed in the reading of poetry? Of a poem that one likes one might say, "it speaks to me," but what exactly do we hear when we hear a poem? And why are there so many poems that seem merely noisy, opaque, elusive, and impenetrable? The subject of this class is the performance of voice in poetry so as to hear more poems more clearly. Indirectly, the course engages the pertinence of performance theory to the study of poetry, the role of music (whether metaphorical or actual) in the evolution of the lyric, and the ongoing historical quandary of the place of orality in literacy-based or textual (or, increasingly in our own time, visual) cultures.

Grading Policy

3-5 papers totaling 16-20 typed pages, plus an assortment of exercises involving the speaking of poetry and the evaluation of that performance.

Papers 50%
Attendance, participation, etc. 50%


Poems, Poets, Poetry, ed. Helen Vendler
Assorted handouts


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