S.Howe Syllabus - Poetry and Documentary
Dedication to Rrufrock AND OTHER OBSERVATIONS by T.S. Eliot, 1917.
For Jean Verdenal, 1889-1915
mort aux Dardanelles
Dedication to the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1921.
Dedicated to the memory of
David H. Pinsett
Poetry and Documentary. Professor Susan Howe Spring semester,
1995. Graduate seminar. English 690. Tuesday 3:30-6:30. Fine Arts
Rm. 246. Films also shown the previous Monday at 7:00 pm in Clemens
Mayakovsky has an essay called "How to Write Poems" where he says that
a poet must spend time and effort choosing the uniquely appropriate
words, force them into the rhythm of the poem and then "test it out
loud" ten times or more. Vertov did something very similar at the
editing table. A hundred tests, a thousand different variants, endless
numbers of try-outs--for meaning, for imagery, for rhythm--and
finally, after long intensive efforts, that feeling of joy: it
works. . .
Capture, don't reconstruct.
---Eric von Stroheim
What is a word in relation to a moving picture? What is 1995 in relation to
1918? This course will be an investigation of poetics by way of
cinema. Using two or three films directed and written by Chris Marker,
La Jetee (1962), and Sans Soleil (1982), and hopefully- -The Train
Rolls On (portrait of Alexander Medvedkin) (1972), as a starting
point, we will consider films that mix documentary footage with
fiction, historical fact with memory. There will be some secondary
reading material, but this is not a course in academic film
study. Rather we will explore some relations between the way film and
poems work with facts. We will read these productions the way we read
poems. Marker's two films are inspired, among other things, by
Vertov's iconoclastic enthusiasm. They are also haunted by the
disaster of WWII, and by the ironies of making art in the wake of
those years without hope. We will concentrate on films (fiction and
non- fiction) some of them in turn haunted by WWI . Esther Shub's The
Fall of the Romanov Dynasty (1927), Dziga Vertov's The Man with the
Movie Camera (1928), Three Songs About Lenin (1934), Leni
Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (1934), Jean Renoir's Rules of the
Game (1939), John Huston's The Battle of San Pietro (1945), Humphrey
Jennings, Listen To Britain (1942-47), Georges Franju's Blood of the
Beasts (1949, Alain Resnais' Night and Fog (1955), Hiroshima Mon
Amour, (1959), Andrei Tarkovsky's Ivan's Childhood, (1962), Mirror
(1965) , Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove: Or how I learned to stop
worrying and loved the Bomb. (1963) perhaps Marker's The Last
Requirements: Each student will be
expected to research and introduce one of the films, and to write a
15-20 page final essay. A weekly written response to the films will
also be expected. The written responses are important. Underlined
books should be at Talking Leaves. Unfortunately the Vertov and
Virilio (War and Cinema) are out of stock so you will have to rely on
the library where they should be on reserve.
My desire is where I am firing at.
Guillaume Apollinaire, 'Desir' "Lueurs des Tirs",
Calligrammes, Paris 1918.
*Primary Sources: Benjamin, Walter. Illuminations. "The Work
of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." Celan, Paul. Last
Poems: Trans. Katherine Washburn, and Maraget Guillem, North Point
Press. Duras, Marguerite. Hiroshima Mon Amour. Text for the film by
Alain Resnais. Grove Press. H.D. Trilogy. Eliot, T. S. Collected
Poems. Junger, Ernst. Copse 125: A Chronicle of the Trench Warfare of
1918. Chatto & Windus. Owen, Wilfred: The Complete Poems and
Fragments, edit by John Stallworthy, Chatto and Windus.Hogarth
Press. Oxford University Press. Pound, Ezra. The Pisan Cantos. New
Directions. Renoir, Jean. Rules of the Game--a film by Jean
Renoir. translated by Jehom McGrathe and Maureen Teitlebaum, Lorimer
Press. Riefenstahl, Leni. Seive of Time: The Memoirs of Leni
Riefenstahl. Sasoon, Counter-attack and other Poems, Diaries
1915-1918, The War Poems. Tarkovsky, Andrei. Sculpting In
Time. translated by Kitty Hunter-Blair. Woolf, Virginia.
Mrs. Dalloway, Letters and Diaries, Three Guineas. Vertov,
Dziga. Kino-eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov. edit with intro by
Annette Michelson, trans. Kevin O'Brien, University of California
*Secondary Sources. Arnheim, Rudolf. Visual Thinking, Berkeley
1969. Barnow, Erik. Documentary: a history of the non-fiction
film. Oxford University Press. NY. 1993. Barthes, Roland. Camera
Lucida:Reflections on Photography. Trans Richard Howard, Hill and
Wang. Brownlow, Kevin. Hollywood: The Pioneers, London 1979.
Deleuze, Gilles. Film Space and Film Time. Fussell, Paul. The Great
War and Modern Memory. Oxford University Press, 1975. Leyda, Jay,
Kino: A History of the Russian and Soviet Film, Macmillan, 1960, new
ed. 1973. Lyotard, Jean-Francois. The Differend: Phrases in
Dispute. Univ of Minnesota Press. 1983. Monaco, James. How to Read a
Film., Oxford University Press. 1981. Scarry, Elaine. The Body in
Pain:The Making and Unmaking of the World. Oxford University Press,
1985. Silverman, Kaja. The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice in
Psychoanalysis and Cinema. Virilio, Paul. War and Cinema: The
Logistics of Perception. Verso, London and NY, 1992. (written 1989.)
_____________. Speed & Politics: An Essay on Dromology. Semiotext(e),
Columbia U. Foreign Agents Series. 1986. (written 1977).
_____________. The Vision Machine. Indiana University Press,
Bloomington & Illinois. 1994. Vogel, Amos. Film as a Subversive Art,
London, 1974, Ward, Larry Wayne. The Motion Picture Goes to War: The
US Government Film Effort during World War I., UMI Research Press,
Studies in Cinema, Ann Arbor, MI 1981.
"The Instrumental Image: Steichen at War", ArtForum, December 1975.
"The Kinetic Icon in the Work of Mourning: Prolegomena to the Analysis
of a Textual System," October, spring, 1990.
I am the
camera's eye. I am the machine that shows you the world as I alone see
it. Starting from today I am forevcr free of human immobility. I am in
perpetual movement. I approach and draw away from things--I crawl
under them--I climb on them--I am on the head of a galloping horse--I
burst at full speed into a crowd--I run before running soldiers--I
throw myself down with the aeroplanes--I fall and I fly at one with
the bodies falling or rising through the air.
--Dziga Vertov, 1918 .
published in Mayakovsky's
I am the ghost of Shadwell Stair,
Along the wharves by the water-house,
And through the cavernous slaughter-house,
I am the shadow that walks there.
Yet I have flesh both firm and cool,
And eyes tumultuous as the gems
Of moons and lamps in the full Thames
When dusk sails wavering down the Pool.
Shuddering, a purple street-arc burns
Where I watch always. From the banks
Dolorously the shipping clanks.
And after me a strange tide turns.
I walk till the stars of London wane,
And dawn creeps up the Shadwell Stair.
But when the crowning sirens blare,
I with another ghost am lain.
---Wilfred Owen. 1918
In general films will be shown during the seminar time. Some of these
films are short. We also have booked Clemens 410 -- 7:00pm on Monday
nights in case we need to show a film twice or need more time.
The following schedule refers to Tuesdays at 3:30 pm. in Fine Arts
Room 246 and Feb 1 in Screening Room. Students are required to
attend this viewing of the Marker films. They cannot be shown again as
they are being rented from outside.
Jan. 17. Discussion of purpose and schedule for films.
Jan. 23/24. Sans Soleil--Chris Marker.
Jan. 30/31. Discussion and clips of Sans Soleil.
Weds. February 1st. Wednesday 4:00 pm Screening Room in the Arts Center
3 Marker films. La Jetee, The Train Rolls On, and Letter from
Siberia. You are required to attend this viewing.
Feb. 6/7. Fall of the Romanov Dynasty- - Esther Shub.
Feb. 13/14. Directly after Peter Nicholls lecture in Clemens 436 a
showing of Three Songs About Lenin-- Dziga Vertov.
Feb. 20/21. Man with a Movie Camera--Dziga Vertov
Feb 27/28. Triumph of the Will-- Leni Reifenstal.
March 7. No film Discussion of Shub,Vertov and Reifenstal. Film and propoganda.
March 20/21. Ivan's Childhood-- Andrei Tarkovsky.
March 27/28. Rules of the Game-- Jean Renoir.
April 3/4. Three documentaries--Humphrey Jennings.
Battle of San Pietro--John Huston
April 10/11. Mirror--Andrei Tarkovsky.
April 17/18. Night and Fog--Alain Resnais. Blood of the Beasts--Franju.
April 24/25. Hiroshima/Nagasaki; August 1945. gov documentary.
Hiroshima mon Amour--Alain Resnais, Marguerette Duras.
May 1. Dr Strangelove. Papers due.
P.S. I would like to fit Open City into this schedule but haven't
figured out how I can do it yet.,
List of VCRs In S. Howe's
Marker Chris-- Sans Soleil Le Joli Mai La Jetee The Last Bolshevik
Sunday in Peking
Rouche and Morin
Chronicle of a Summer
The Rise and Fall of the Romanov Dynasty
Three Songs About Lenin
The Man with a Movie Camera
A Man Escapes
Diary of A Country Priest (very poor copy)
Paison (very poor copy)
Let There Be Light
Paths of Glory (poor copy)
Muller on Riefenstahl
The Wonderful Terrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl