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 my friend 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 410. 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. . . ---Elizaveta Svilova 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 Bolshevik (1990).
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.
Suggested reading. *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 Press. *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 LET Magazine 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 _________________

Film schedule 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 Library Marker Chris-- Sans Soleil Le Joli Mai La Jetee The Last Bolshevik Sunday in Peking Rouche and Morin Chronicle of a Summer Tarkovsky Andrei-- Mirror Ivan's Childhood Solaris Andrei Rubalov Shub Esther-- The Rise and Fall of the Romanov Dynasty Vertov Dziga-- Three Songs About Lenin The Man with a Movie Camera Bresson Robert-- A Man Escapes Diary of A Country Priest (very poor copy) Rossellini Roberto Paison (very poor copy) Huston John Let There Be Light Kubrick Stanley Paths of Glory (poor copy) Muller on Riefenstahl The Wonderful Terrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl