> Audio Files
ENGLISH 680: Poetry & Pragmatism
Susan Howe and Peter Hare
2 October - 1 November 2002
State University of New York at Buffalo
The main interest for this course
is the knotty question, "Do poets and philosophers think alike?"
So we want to keep this seminar open to improvisation - we want to be
able to go where this question leads us - which may be down a path to
some current metaphysical ideas of symbolic logicians, counterfactuals,
deep ecology, possible worlds, paradoxes, homeless objects, worlds in
which the first law of contradiction does not hold -
Louis Menand, ed. Pragmatism: A Reader
Morris Dickstein, ed. The Revival of Pragmatism
Wednesday, 2 October
Readings: C. S. Peirce, "A Definition of Pragmatism" (Menand);
William James, "What Pragmatism Means" (Menand); Ralph Waldo
Emerson, "Experience"; Stanley Cavell, "What's the Use
of Calling Emerson a Pragmatist?" (Dickstein); Richard Poirier, "Why
Do Pragmatists Want to be like Poets?" (Dickstein); Louis Menand,
"Pragmatists and Poets: A Response to Richard Poirier" (Dickstein).
Friday, 4 October
Readings: Wallace Stevens, poems from The Rock (in Collected
Poems); Hilary Putnam, "Pragmatism and Realism" (Dickstein);
Richard Rorty, "Philosophy as a Kind of Writing: An Essay on Derrida"
Wednesday, 9 October
Readings: William Carlos Williams, Paterson Bk. 1; John Dewey,
"The Ethics of Democracy" (Menand); Westbrook, "Pragmatism
and Democracy: Reconstructing the Logic of John Dewey's Faith" (Dickstein);
Richard Rorty, "Pragmatism as Romantic Polytheism" (Dickstein);
Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The American Scholar."
Friday, 11 October
Readings: William Carlos Williams, Paterson Bks. 2, 3, & 5;
Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, CH. 7: Relativity
and CH. 8: The Quantum Theory; John Dewey, "Experience, Nature, and
Wednesday, 16 October
Readings: Cornel West, "Prophetic Pragmatism" (Menand); Nancy
Fraser, "Another Pragmatism: Alain Locke, Critical 'Race' Theory,
and the Politics of Culture" (Dickstein); Kenneth Burke, Philosophy
in Literary Form, "William Carlos Williams 1883-1963"; William
Carlos Williams, In The American Grain, "Abraham Lincoln";
Marianne Moore [Abraham Lincoln essay].
Friday, 18 October
Michael Magee visit
Readings: Michael Magee, "Ralph Ellison: Pragmatism, Jazz, and The
American Vernacular"; Kenneth Burke, "Literature as Equipment
for Living," "The Negro's Pattern of Life," and "The
Rhetoric of Hitler's Battle."
Wednesday, 23 October
Readings: C. S. Peirce, "A Guess at the Riddle of Chance" and
"Evolutionary Love" (Menand); C. S. Peirce, "Letters to
Lady Welby" and "A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God";
Charles Olson, "A Special View of History" and selections from
The Maximus Poems.
Friday, 25 October
Saturday, 26 October
Conference: C. S. Peirce and the Art of Icons
Wednesday, 30 October
Readings: George Santayana, "The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy";
Gertrude Stein The Geographical History of America pp. 1-20 and
selections from Stanzas in Meditation; William James, "The
Will to Believe" (Menand); Charles Olson, "[Maximus From
Dogtown - IV]" (please refer to the Golliard edition at Poetry
and Rare Books Collection, 420 Capen Hall).
Friday, 1 November
Readings: Gertrude Stein, "What is English Literature?"; Charles
Olson, "The Death of Europe"; Wallace Stevens, "Materia
Poetica (1940)," "To An Old Philosopher in Rome," and "An
Ordinary Evening in New Haven."