a cross-listed graduate/undergraduate seminar developed and taught by Jennifer Scappettone at the University of Chicago, Winter 2010  

The avant-garde revival…has found in this nationless woman [apolide] from a great tradition of cosmopolitan families, a terrain in which to explode with the deadly and marvelous fecundity of mushroom clouds in the act of their taking shape, etc., etc. —Pier Paolo Pasolini, “A note on Amelia Rosselli” (1963)

I am not a stateless person [apolide]. I have an Italian father and if I was born in Paris it is simply because he had fled….  The designation “cosmopolitan” goes back to an essay by Pasolini…, but I reject that epithet for us: we are children of the Second World War….  The cosmopolite is a person who chooses to be so. We were not cosmopolitans; we were refugees.                                     —Amelia Rosselli, in a 1990 interview

We are all Caribbeans now in our urban archipelagos….  Perhaps there’s no return for anyone to a native land—only notes for its reinvention. –James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture (1988)

This course explores crises of placelessness and displacement as modern and self-consciously post-modern verse has attempted to map them.  From modernist cosmopolitan collage to postwar and contemporary poetry of exile, migration, and diaspora, the work we will study, lodged between tongues, gives traction to discourse surrounding the abstraction of space in globalizing contexts.  We will examine the formal and social prompts and repercussions of experiments in barbarism, polylingualism, dialect, creole, and thwarted translation, and will delve into some examples of poetic reckoning with the transformation of the site of reading, in the form of mixed/new media and otherwise ambient poetics.

Required texts for purchase at Seminary Co-Op:

Paul Celan, Selections (ed. Pierre Joris)

Etel Adnan, The Arab Apocalypse

Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee

Pamela Lu, Pamela:  A Novel

Cecil Giscombe, Prairie Style

Kamau Brathwaite, Born to Slow Horses

Édouard Glissant, Poetic Intention (note: the publisher will help us with orders)

Other texts have been digitized and will be found on reserve (via Chalk) and/or in the “Documents” section of the class Chalk site.