English R1B

Reading and Composition: Blank Generation: The Changing Arts in 1970s New York City

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Fall 2017 Alexander, Edward Sterling
MWF 11-12 80 Barrows

Book List

Ashbery, John: Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror; Berrigan, Ted: The Sonnets; Mayer , Bernadette: Midwinter Day; Reed, Ishmael: Mumbo Jumbo; Waldman, Anne: Fast Speaking Woman

Other Readings and Media

Course reader with writings by Ron Padget, Joe Brainard, Alice Notley, Eileen Myles, Hannah Weiner, Patti Smith, Richard Meltzer, Lester Bangs, Jane Jacobs and others. 

Non-print media: Poetry in Motion (Dir. Ron Mann); Permanent Vacation (Dir. Jim Jarmusch); Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks; Miles Davis: On the Corner; No New York (curated by Brian Eno); Public Access Poetry


In the decade of urban decay, energy crisis, deindustrialization, and Watergate, artists of all stripes were thrown back on their own resources, seeking the means and reasons for continuing the avant-garde’s project of cultural revolution after the political defeats of the late 1960s.  In this course we will examine 1970s New York as a time and place of both collapse and reinvention.  Devoting special attention to particular locations that served as vital sites of activity for the remnants of the postwar counterculture—most obviously, the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, the SoHo lofts, Max’s Kansas City, and CBGB—we will examine the shifts and reversals of this era across a variety of media that both exemplify and challenge the category of “literature.”  At a time when academic thought about literature was itself undergoing radical restructuring in the Anglo-American university’s adoption of European literary theory, members of the American literary culture began to migrate into other media such as music, film and television in order to locate new possibilities for their work.  Faced with unprecedented obstacles to their flourishing, artists thus found that their best skill was to become moving targets.  

Since this is an R1B course, students will continue developing the skills in critical reading and essay composition that they began to cultivate in R1A. This time around we will build upon those skills by introducing students to the basics of research methodology as they produce final research papers on a topic of their choice pertaining to the course materials. Students will learn how to locate and cite scholarly articles relevant to their topic of interest. We will continue to work on writing and argumentation skills in a series of in-class exercises, revisions and peer editing workshops.

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