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Elizabeth Cullingford, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Chad Bennett

Assistant Professor Ph.D., 2011, Cornell University

Chad Bennett

Contact

Biography

Chad Bennett is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Ph.D. in English from Cornell University, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing (Poetry) from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a B.A. in English from Stanford University. His first book project, Word of Mouth: Gossip and American Poetry, divulges the dynamic relationship between modern American poetry and the queer art of gossip. His critical work has appeared in ELH, Modern Drama, and Cinema Journal, and his poetry has appeared in journals such as Fence, jubilat, Denver Quarterly, Verse Daily, New Orleans Review, and others.  He has received fellowship support for his research from sources including UT Austin, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Mellon Foundation, and Cornell University.    

Interests

Twentieth- and twenty-first-century American literature and culture, poetry and poetics, queer theory, gender and sexuality studies, film and media studies, and creative writing.

E 371K • Modern And Contemporary Poetry

35940 • Fall 2014
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am PAR 304
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Instructor:  Bennett, C

Unique #:  35940

Semester:  Fall 2014

Cross-lists:  n/a

Flags:  Writing

Computer Instruction:  No

Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.

Description: “Poetry is Dead. Does Anybody Really Care?” asked a Newsweek opinion piece in 2003, one of several turn- of-the-century declarations of poetry’s apparent demise. Hardly new, such obituaries recur throughout the twentieth century, forming a long cultural tradition that alternately celebrates poetry’s marginality as a strength or bemoans the irrelevance of contemporary verse. Is poetry, as has so often been announced, dead? How do we account, then, for the role poetry does play in twentieth- and twenty-first-century culture? How have contemporary poets responded to and helped to shape the cultural and aesthetic questions of their times?

This course, a study of poetry written in English from 1945 to the present, explores such questions through both a sampling of poems from significant contemporary poetic communities and movements, as well as the in-depth consideration of some of the most influential books of poetry published in the last seventy years. These innovative and sometimes controversial books evince how a seemingly moribund poetry has in fact often played a lively part in contemporary culture. In our efforts to understand this part, our readings of these books of poetry will attend to both the poetic traditions and practices they represent and the cultural contexts out of which they emerge and to which they speak.

Class readings, discussion, and writing will be motivated by three main goals. First, we will seek to develop and fine-tune our skills in analyzing poetry, placing particular emphasis on understanding specific poems, and the workings and effects of poetic language, structures, and devices. Second, we will pursue a deep understanding of the individual books we consider, paying special attention to how each book’s poetics and reception are differently inflected by issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, and nation. Finally, we will more broadly map the richness and variety of the movements, innovations, and impasses in poetry from 1945 to the present.

Texts: Our primary reading will consist of poems written from 1945 to the present: a course reader with brief selections from the work of a number and variety of poets will complement individual books of poetry by poets such as Elizabeth Bishop, Kamau Brathwaite, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Harryette Mullen, Frank O’Hara, Sylvia Plath, and/or others.

Secondary reading will include reviews, scholarly essays, and other materials providing cultural and literary historical context.

Requirements & Grading: Final grades will be based on two exams (25% each), a six-page essay and optional revision (35%), and participation in class discussion and in informal written exercises (15%). Attendance is mandatory; more than three absences may result in a reduction of the final grade.

E 396L • Contemporary Poetry & Poetics

36125 • Fall 2014
Meets F 1200pm-300pm CAL 323
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DESCRIPTION. In this course we will attempt to map the varieties and the vitality of twenty-first century poetry written in English, including the post-language lyric; new media poetry; documentary poetry; procedural poetry, conceptualism, and Flarf; hybrid modes such as the lyric essay; ecopoetics; and innovative feminist, queer, and multi-cultural poetries. Our readings in this rich but unsettled body of work will emphasize the poetic traditions and practices that these new poetries challenge, extend, and invent, as well as the cultural contexts out of which they emerge and to which they speak. 

To this end, we will ask how poets have responded to aspects of twenty-first century life such as the increased connectivity and barrage of information enabled by the internet, mobile phones, and related technologies; shifting notions of intellectual property; September 11 and the so-called war on terror; the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and a climate of ambient war; late capitalism and the financial crisis in 2007; the election of the United States’ first black president and fraught assertions of a post-racial society; and a heightened awareness of ecological degradation. Although our focus will be mostly on American poetry of the last few decades, as we pursue these questions we will be alert to the ways in which poets and critics, in a time of increasing globalization, press against and beyond the concept of nation.   

Concomitant with our exploration of the relationship between recent poetry and its cultural contexts will be an attention to how twenty-first century poetries engage with significant traditions in contemporary poetry and poetics, including the putatively mainstream, voice-based lyric; language-based experimentation; and identity-based, socially engaged poetic practices. We will consider how poets of this century borrow liberally from and rewrite the forms and ideologies of each of these modes, disrupting settled senses of the traditional and experimental in the process.  

Throughout the course, we will be concerned with understanding specific poems and the workings, effects and implications of their language, structures, and devices.

READINGS. Our reading will consist of representative, individual books of poetry from 2001 to the present alongside select poems and critical accounts of twenty-first century poetry and poetics.  

REQUIREMENTS. Students will be evaluated based on participation; brief written responses to each week’s course readings; a presentation; and a 15-20 page seminar paper (MFA students will have the option to complete a creative project).

E 325P • Poetry Writing

35925 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm PAR 310
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Instructor:  Bennett, C

Unique #:  35925

Semester:  Spring 2014

Cross-lists:  n/a

E 325 (Topic 2: Creative Writing: Poetry) and 325P may not both be counted.

Prerequisites: C L 315, E 603B, 316K, or T C 603B.

Description: This course provides an introduction to the practice of poetry writing. Through regular creative exercises, class workshops of student poems, and readings in and analysis of contemporary and traditional poetry, we will explore fundamental aspects of poetic craft. Topics will include imagery and metaphor; diction, line, and stanza; sonic effects; and voice and tone. We will also learn about poetic forms ranging from the sonnet, sestina, and villanelle to open forms and the prose poem. Our goal will be to develop our own distinctive poetic practices. To this end, in written work and class discussions we will attempt to understand both how different poems achieve their effects and why poets might seek those effects.

Texts:  Readings, to be distributed in class, will consist of student work and contemporary poems representing a wide range of poetic traditions and practices.

Requirements & Grading: Grades will be based on a final portfolio of original poems and revisions (40%); weekly creative and/or critical exercises (30%); and class participation (30%).  Attendance is mandatory; more than three absences may result in a reduction of the final grade.

E 396L • Poetry Theory

36205 • Fall 2013
Meets M 630pm-930pm CAL 323
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DESCRIPTION. This course provides an introduction to the field of poetic theory. Through readings in criticism and poetry from antiquity to the present, we will develop a sense of the history and current state of ongoing debates in the theory and practice of English-language poetry. What is poetry? What are its dominant features, techniques, and purposes? How do we distinguish it from other genres and types of discourse? How do we understand it in relation to its cultural and historical contexts? We will pursue such broad questions by entering into conversations around specific topics such as poetic address, figures of speech, sound and prosody, syntax and the line, diction and lexis, verse forms, voice and the lyric “I,” affect, temporality, context and occasion, and “lyric reading.”

TEXTS. In addition to poems by poets from Sappho to Juliana Spahr, we will consider work by critics and theorists including Theodor Adorno, Giorgio Agamben, Charles Altieri, Aristotle, Derek Attridge, Harold Bloom, Cleanth Brooks, Jonathan Culler, Paul de Man, Northrop Frye, Allen Grossman, G. W. F. Hegel, Virginia Jackson, Barbara Johnson, John Stuart Mill, Sianne Ngai, Winifred Nowottny, Marjorie Perloff, Plato, Rei Tarada, Helen Vendler, Michael Warner, and others.

REQUIREMENTS. Students will be evaluated based on participation, weekly critical and/or creative exercises in response to course readings, a presentation, and a longer writing assignment.

E 325P • Poetry Writing

35380 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 500pm-630pm PAR 210
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Instructor:  Bennett, C.            Areas:  IV / U

Unique #:  35380            Flags:  Writing

Semester:  Spring 2013            Restrictions:  n/a

Cross-lists:  n/a            Computer Instruction:  No

E 325 (Topic 2: Creative Writing: Poetry) and 325P may not both be counted.

Prerequisites: C L 315, E 603B, 316K, or T C 603B.

Description: This course provides an introduction to the practice of poetry writing.  Through regular creative exercises, class workshops of original student work, and readings in and analysis of contemporary poetry, we will explore fundamental aspects of poetic craft. Topics will include imagery and metaphor; diction, line, and stanza; sonic effects; and voice and tone.  We will also learn about poetic forms ranging from the sonnet, sestina, and villanelle to open forms and the prose poem.  Our goal will be to develop our own distinctive poetic practices. To this end, in written work and class discussions we will attempt to understand both how different poems achieve their effects and why poets might seek those effects.     

Texts:  Readings, to be distributed in class, will consist of student work and contemporary poems representing a wide range of poetic traditions and practices.

Requirements & Grading: Grades will be based on a final portfolio of original poems and revisions (40%); weekly creative and/or critical exercises (30%); and class participation (30%).  Attendance is mandatory; more than three absences may result in a reduction of the final grade.

E 371K • Twentieth-Century Poetry

35625 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm GAR 0.128
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Instructor:  Bennett, C            Areas:  III / U

Unique #:  35625            Flags:  n/a

Semester:  Fall 2012            Restrictions:  n/a

Cross-lists:  n/a            Computer Instruction:  No

Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.

Description: “Poetry is Dead.  Does Anybody Really Care?” asked a Newsweek opinion piece in 2003, one of several turn-of-the-century declarations of poetry’s apparent demise. Hardly new, such obituaries recur throughout the twentieth century, forming a long cultural tradition that alternately celebrates poetry’s marginality as a strength or bemoans the irrelevance of contemporary verse. Is poetry, as has so often been announced, dead? How do we account, then, for the role poetry does play in twentieth- and twenty-first-century culture? How have contemporary poets responded to and helped to shape the cultural and aesthetic questions of their times?

            This course, a study of poetry written in English from 1945 to the present, explores such questions through the in-depth consideration of some of the most influential books of poetry published in the last sixty years. These innovative and sometimes controversial books evince how a seemingly moribund poetry has in fact often played a lively part in contemporary culture. In our efforts to understand this part, our readings of these books of poetry will attend to both the poetic traditions and practices they represent and the cultural contexts out of which they emerge and to which they speak.

            Class readings, discussion, and writing will be motivated by three main goals. First, we will seek to develop and fine-tune our skills in analyzing poetry, placing particular emphasis on understanding specific poems, and the workings and effects of poetic language, structures, and devices. Second, we will pursue a deep understanding of the individual books we consider, paying special attention to how each book’s poetics and reception are differently inflected by issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, and nation. Finally, we will more broadly map the richness and variety of the movements, innovations, and impasses in poetry from 1945 to the present.

Texts: Our primary reading will consist of eight to ten individual volumes of poetry from 1945 to the present. Poets whose works we may study include Elizabeth Bishop, Kamau Brathwaite, Gwendolyn Brooks, Anne Carson, Allen Ginsberg, Thom Gunn, Langston Hughes, Robert Lowell, Harryette Mullen, Frank O’Hara, Sylvia Plath, and others.

            Secondary reading will include reviews, scholarly essays, and other materials (including additional poems) providing cultural and literary historical context.

Requirements & Grading: Final grades will be based on two exams (25% each), a six-page essay and optional revision (30%), and participation in class discussion and in informal written exercises (20%). Attendance is mandatory; more than three absences may result in a reduction of the final grade.

E 379R • Gossip And 20th-Century Poetry

35730 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm PAR 310
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Instructor:  Bennett, C            Areas:  VI

Unique #:  35730            Flags:  Writing; Independent Inquiry

Semester:  Fall 2012            Restrictions:  n/a

Cross-lists:  n/a            Computer Instruction:  No

Prerequisites: Six semester hours of upper-division coursework in English.

Description: “Gossip exalts in poetry,” declares Robert Frost. This might seem a strange claim, since gossip’s ostensibly frivolous talk about others appears at odds with common conceptions of poetry as serious, solitary expression. Yet from the talk of the town to the modern gossip column, and from loose lips sink ships to don’t ask, don’t tell, American poets have persistently engaged gossip as a rhetorical model and a source of inspiration, turning to the strategies of idle talk in part to address shifting ideas of privacy and publicity, and self and community, and in part to reinvigorate poetic practice.

Starting with the assumption that poetic gossip thus provides a rich vantage from which to consider twentieth-century American poetry and culture, this seminar proposes two main lines of inquiry. First: in a digital era marked by an extraordinary and increasing ability—and desire—to spread gossip rapidly and widely, what can a rich tradition of poetic gossip tell us about the pleasures, uses, and risks of idle talk? And second: how can the history and style of gossip—especially insofar as it has been associated with marginalized identities (particularly women, gay men, and the working class), linked to mass culture and celebrity, and bound up with technologies from the telephone to Twitter—help us to better understand the forms and social practices of modern and contemporary poetry?

We will explore these questions by studying poems that represent gossip, poems that enact gossip, and poems that adopt aspects of gossip’s style. We will further consider gossip about poets and their poems, and how it might shape the reception of their work. We will also, by way of comparison with gossip, pay attention to forms of everyday and intimate talk more often associated with poetry, such as conversation and confession. Finally, we will think more broadly about gossip’s value as a metaphor for different kinds of collaborative and multi-voiced poetics, and for various strategies of unofficial meaning-making at work in twentieth-century poetry and beyond.

Texts: We will read and discuss poems by David Antin, John Ashbery, Gwendolyn Brooks, T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Kenneth Goldsmith, Langston Hughes, Edgar Lee Masters, Harryette Mullen, Frank O’Hara, Ezra Pound, D. A. Powell, James Schuyler, Juliana Spahr, Gertrude Stein, and others.

Secondary reading will include essays on modern and contemporary poetry and poetics, scholarship on gossip in the social sciences and the humanities, legal accounts of gossip, and (in the form of reviews, interviews, letters, journals, memoirs, and biographical excerpts) juicy instances of poetry-world gossip.

Requirements & Grading: Final grades will be based on participation (both in class discussions and in short, weekly, written responses) (25%), a six-page essay and revision (25%), and a ten-page essay (50%). Attendance is mandatory; more than three absences may result in a reduction of the final grade.

E 379R • New York Sch Poets And Artists

35555 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 310
show description

Instructor:  Bennett, C            Areas:  VI / I

Unique #:  35555            Flags:  Writing; Independent Inquiry

Semester:  Spring 2012            Restrictions:  n/a

Cross-lists:  n/a            Computer Instruction:  No

Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.

Course Description: In New York in the 1950s, Frank O’Hara and his fellow poets “divided our time between the literary bar, the San Remo, and the artists’ bar, the Cedar Tavern. In the San Remo we argued and gossiped: in the Cedar we often wrote poems while listening to the painters argue and gossip.” This heady mix of poetry, art, and gossip helped to define the so-called “New York School” of poets, one of many groups that challenged the literary establishment during the postwar years. The label New York School is sometimes taken to refer to a poetic style (marked by a playful, ironic, urban sensibility) and sometimes to a specific social scene (the New York art world in the fifties and sixties, and often the queer contours of that world). In fact blurring the line between literary styles and social networks, art and friendship, New York School poets variously sought to revitalize the connection between poems and contemporary life, and in so doing helped to reshape the forms, content, and politics of contemporary American poetry.

In this seminar we will explore the poetry of the New York School’s central figures (John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, Frank O’Hara, and James Schuyler) and the influence their work had on later poets affiliated with the style and community of the New York School. Throughout the course, we will be alert to how the history of New York School poetry illuminates the innovations and impasses of postwar American poetry more generally. 

Although our emphasis will be on poetry, we will read the poems within their broader aesthetic and social contexts, particularly the context of the New York art world. We will consider poetry in relation to painting, theater, dance, music, and film, studying numerous cross-genre collaborations and the rich interrelationship between these artistic mediums.

Texts: Our primary reading will be drawn from the work of first-generation New York School poets John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, Frank O’Hara, and James Schuyler. We will also read widely among poets differently associated with the New York School, including Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones, Ted Berrigan, Joe Brainard, Joseph Ceravolo, Bernadette Mayer, Eileen Myles, Alice Notley, Ron Padgett, and others. Some of the many New York artists we will consider in relation to these poets include Willem de Kooning, Jane Freilicher, Michael Goldberg, Grace Hartigan, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Larry Rivers, and Mark Rothko.

Requirements & Grading: Final grades will be based on participation (both in class discussions and in weekly written exercises) (25%); one six-page essay (25%); and one ten-page research essay, developed in stages, with brief written assignments due along the way (50%). Attendance is mandatory; excessive absences, tardiness, and/or missed deadlines will negatively affect your final grade.

E 344L • Hollywood Babylon

35289 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm GAR 0.120
show description

Prerequisites: C L 315, E 603B, 316K, or T C 603B.

Description: Dream factory or nightmare? Promised land or wasteland? In this course we will examine Hollywood’s symbolic role in American culture, considering the many complex and often contradictory ways the film capital has been constructed and understood. What can these competing representations of Hollywood tell us about twentieth-century America and its ideals, practices, and concerns? What do we find if we approach Hollywood as a vibrant cultural site to which America has repeatedly turned to work out its most conflicted ideas about art and commerce, class, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, ethics, politics, style? Posing these questions of numerous representations of Hollywood—primarily in films and novels, but also in stories, essays, poems, paintings, photographs, and fan magazines—we will trace America’s fraught relationship to Hollywood as it develops over the twentieth century, and explore the formal genre of the Hollywood story. 

Texts: In addition to Kenneth Anger’s gossipy Hollywood counter-history, Hollywood Babylon, texts will include novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Love of the Last Tycoon), Nathanael West (The Day of the Locust), and Gore Vidal (Myra Breckinridge); the films A Star is Born (dir. George Cukor), Barton Fink (by Joel and Ethan Coen), L.A. Confidential (dir. Curtis Hanson), Sunset Blvd. (dir. Billy Wilder), and Mulholland Dr. (dir. David Lynch); and artwork by Joseph Cornell, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, and Cindy Sherman (The Complete Untitled Film Stills). The course packet will include brief additional readings, including critical essays.

Requirements & Grading: Final grades will be based on participation (both in class and in short, weekly written exercises) (20%), two five-page essays (25% each), and one eight-page essay (30%). Attendance is mandatory; more than three absences may result in a reduction of the final grade.

E 379R • Gossip And 20th-Century Poetry

35835 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 310
show description

Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.

Description: “Gossip exalts in poetry,” declares Robert Frost.  This might seem a strange claim, since gossip’s ostensibly frivolous talk about others appears at odds with common conceptions of poetry as serious, solitary expression.  Yet from the talk of the town to the modern gossip column, and from loose lips sink ships to don’t ask, don’t tell, poets have persistently engaged gossip as a rhetorical model and a source of inspiration, turning to the strategies of idle talk in part to address shifting ideas of privacy and publicity, and self and community, and in part to reinvigorate poetic practice.

Starting with the assumption that poetic gossip thus provides a rich vantage from which to consider twentieth-century poetry and culture, this seminar proposes two main lines of inquiry.  First: in a digital era marked by an extraordinary and increasing ability—and desire—to spread gossip rapidly and widely, what can a rich tradition of poetic gossip tell us about the pleasures, uses, and risks of idle talk?  And second: how can the history of gossip—especially insofar as it has been associated with marginalized identities (particularly women, gay men, and the working class), linked to mass culture and celebrity, and bound up with technologies from the telephone to Twitter—help us to better understand the forms and social practices of modern and contemporary poetry?

We will explore these questions by studying poems that represent gossip, poems that enact gossip, and poems that adopt aspects of gossip’s style.  We will further consider gossip about poets and their poems, and how it might shape the reception of their work.  We will also, by way of comparison with gossip, pay attention to forms of everyday and intimate talk more often associated with poetry, such as conversation and confession.  Finally, we will think more broadly about gossip’s value as a metaphor for different kinds of collaborative and multi-voiced poetics, and for various strategies of unofficial meaning-making at work in twentieth-century poetry.

Texts: Our primary reading will consist of select poems by a wide range of poets, with particular emphasis on the work of W. H. Auden, Langston Hughes, James Merrill, Harryette Mullen, Frank O’Hara, Sylvia Plath, D. A. Powell, Juliana Spahr, Gertrude Stein, and others.

Secondary reading will include critical essays on modern and contemporary poetry and poetics, scholarship on gossip in the social sciences and the humanities, legal accounts of gossip, and (in the form of reviews, interviews, letters, journals, memoirs, and biographical excerpts) juicy instances of poetry-world gossip.

Requirements & Grading: Final grades will be based on participation (both in class and in short, weekly blog posts) (25%), two four-page essays (20% each), and one ten-page essay (35%).  Attendance is mandatory; more than three absences may result in a reduction of the final grade.

E 344L • Hollywood Babylon

34642 • Fall 2010
Meets MW 330pm-500pm PAR 204
show description

Course Description: Dream factory or nightmare? Promised land or wasteland? In this course we will examine Hollywood’s symbolic role in American culture, considering the many complex and often contradictory ways the film capital has been constructed and understood. What can these competing representations of Hollywood tell us about twentieth-century America and its ideals, practices, and concerns? What do we find if we approach Hollywood as a vibrant cultural site to which America has repeatedly turned to work out its most conflicted ideas about art and commerce, class, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, ethics, politics, style? Posing these questions of numerous representations of Hollywood—primarily in films and novels, but also in stories, essays, poems, paintings, photographs, and fan magazines—we will trace America’s fraught relationship to Hollywood as it develops over the twentieth century, and explore the formal genre of the Hollywood story.

Texts: In addition to Kenneth Anger’s gossipy Hollywood counter-history, Hollywood Babylon, texts will include novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Love of the Last Tycoon), Nathanael West (The Day of the Locust), and Gore Vidal (Myra Breckinridge); the films A Star is Born (dir. George Cukor), Barton Fink (by Joel and Ethan Coen), L.A. Confidential (dir. Curtis Hanson), Sunset Blvd. (dir. Billy Wilder), and Mulholland Dr. (dir. David Lynch); and artwork by Joseph Cornell, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, and Cindy Sherman (The Complete Untitled Film Stills). The course packet will include brief additional readings, including critical essays.

Grading: Final grades will be based on participation (both in class and in short, weekly blog posts) (20%), two five-page essays (25% each), and one eight-page essay (30%). Attendance is mandatory; more than three absences may result in a reduction of the final grade.

Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing. 

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