English 143B

Verse: The Migratory Ear: Listening as a Generative Strategy


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2021 Hofer, Jen
TTh 2-3:30

Description

“…listen/to the sound/of the grass/as we speak/the sound/of the grass/is the poem/we are writing/together/as we speak” (Cecilia Vicuña, ed. and trans. Rosa Alcalá)

What becomes possible when we listen differently, beyond the bounds of familiar voices and communication modes, and hence express ourselves differently, beyond the bounds of familiar constructs? We tend to think of writing as a form of speech, of self-expression, an exteriorization of ideas, thoughts and imaginings that are inside us. What if we were to invert that paradigm completely, constructing a writing practice based on listening, receiving, channeling, translating, transmigrating, and otherwise being a medium for what is already present in the world, or for what we might make present by our conjurings? Writing and art-making are material and thinking practices through which we can instigate ourselves to perceive the world differently, and to configure a different world. Radical shifts in perception and configuration are urgently necessary—right here and right now. Writers we are likely to consider in this class include: F. Douglas Brown, Don Mee Choi, CA Conrad, Heid E. Erdrich, Ashaki Jackson, Douglas Kearney, Sawako Nakayasu, Urayoán Noel, M. NourbeSe Philip, Cecilia Vicuña, and Joshua Whitehead.

This class is an intensive reading, conversing, and writing experience. As part of the class, we will experiment with a range of approaches and strategies for generating and/or revising text, all based on listening as a creative, social and political act. We will define and redefine “listening” in the broadest sense(s) possible, including auditory and sonic practice, but extending beyond those to investigate translation theory and practice, multilingualism, writing-through-music, the dérive, (soma)tics and other perceptual adventures. The Migratory Ear is open to anyone with a creative practice, whether or not you consider yourself a writer, and is especially designed to welcome students whose use of English inhabits many different "Englishes," whose first language was not English, and/or who are bilingual or multilingual.

Students will do some covid-safe "field work" in the form of listening tours on walks, hikes, bike rides, or just in their own spaces if they need to quarantine. They will also attend (via zoom) a reading or concert as part of a writing exercise. Most of these projects will be done as homework (i.e. inherently asynchronous, regardless of whether the class is meeting virtually or in-person) but once or twice they may replace classtime -- this will depend on what the group decides together.

The class will meet synchronously probably 98% of the time. 

Only continuing, upper-division UC Berkeley students are eligible to apply for this course. To be considered for admission, please electronically submit 5 of your poems, by clicking on the link below; fill out the application you'll find there and attach the writing sample as a Word document or .rtf file. The deadline for completing this application process is 11 PM, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29.

Applicants will be informed, by email, of the results of their application by Tuesday, November 24.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

spring, 2021

143B/1

Verse

fall, 2020

143B/1

Verse

spring, 2020

143B/1

Verse

143B/2

Verse

Matuk, Farid
fall, 2019

143B/1

Verse

spring, 2019

143B/1

Verse

143B/2

Verse

143B/3

Verse

summer, 2019

143B/1

Verse

fall, 2018

143B/1

Verse

Nicholson, Sara

143B/2

Verse

spring, 2018

143B/1

Verse

143B/2

Verse


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