DepositThe Poetics of Practicality

This essay explores insistently practical medieval texts—works whose explicit goal is to assist their readers to make something in the world beyond the page (a book, a culinary dish, an ointment, an object) and asks if they can be said to have a poetics. Drawing on Michel de Certeau and Pierre Bourdieu’s theories of practice as well as Gérard Genette’s concepts of literariness, the article examines medieval vocabularies, medical texts, recipes, carving manuals, and several works by Geoffrey Chaucer and John Lydgate to consider the relationship of the poetic and the practical and the broad appeal of the how-to text in late medieval English literature and culture.

DepositElectronic Literature: Contexts and Poetics

Electronic literature, essentially, must be electronic and literary. Even if we cannot define the literary, we can at least recognize it, and, from recognition, we can begin to build meaning. This chapter attempts to do just that: offer readers an account of some of the contexts that suggest literature that is inherently digital and extrapolate from those contexts a poetics suited to works of this nature.

DepositAristotle’s Poetics

This paper provides an overview and commentary of Aristotle’s theory of poetry, of drama, and of narrative structure, as presented the Poetics. The main emphasis falls on plot structure, but we expound other important subjects dealt with in the work, such as the cognitive origins of literature, the nature of poetry, an incipient theory of media and the analysis of genres, the nature and elements of tragedy, and other subjects such as epic narrative and the structure of critical debates.

DepositPlato’s Poetics

This paper presents an introductory overview of Plato’s poetics, aesthetics, and literary theory, with particular reference to his notion of mimesis, and grounding the discussion on his Theory of Ideas. It is part of a lecture series on the history of literary criticism, partly available online as HYPERCRITICA: A HYPERTEXTUAL HISTORY OF LITERARY CRITICISM. Keywords: Plato, Philosophy, Literary theory, Aesthetics, Poetics, Ideas, Representation, Mimesis

DepositThe Pedagogical Poetics of Testimony: How

Feminist resistance has been crucial for Argentina’s recovery from the military dictatorship of 1976-1983. Alicia Partnoy was “disappeared” into one of hundreds of torture centers sardonically called “Little Schools.” After her release and exile to the United States, she published her poetic testimony, The Little School, with Cleis Press in 1986. This paper discusses how the literary testimony of The Little School intervenes in the misogynist pedagogy that propelled the violence of the dictatorship. Her text performs alternative modes of knowledge-building within that violent instruction. She does this by declaring herself “una mala alumna” – a “bad student” – of the school’s instruction, which demanded passivity and embodied silence. I argue that Partnoy mobilizes the metaphor of being a “bad student” of the School not only to teach about the structural and personal violence of the dictatorship, but to encourage audiences to grapple with how to safeguard resistant learning within violent instructional frameworks of classroom, public, and cultural pedagogy. To be a “bad student,” or what I call a “willful learner,” is to build resilient forms of self and community within the space of the structural and personal violence of the School where, as Partnoy writes, “professors use the lessons of torture and humiliation to teach us to lose the memories of ourselves.” I further argue that the figure of the willful learner in her text maps onto the generative possibilities of the willful reading of her text’s own audiences. Partnoy’s lesson is a timely reminder of the urgency of safeguarding willful learning within institutions built on the maintenance of white supremacy.

DepositPlacing the Poetic Corrective: William Carlos Williams, Kenneth Burke and the Poetic Imaginary

This essay explores the meaning of Kenneth Burke’s notion of the “poetic corrective” from his book _Permanence and Change_ by examining the ideas of William Carlos Williams, a lifelong friend and frequent correspondent with Burke. Williams’s poetry is also examined as a potential model for the “poetic corrective,” which I suggest is what Burke might have had in mind for his coming corrective.

DepositConceptions of the Poetic in Classical Greek Prose

This dissertation explores how prose authors of the Classical period envisioned literary distinctions, particularly how and when they labeled a particular utterance ‘poetic’. The first chapter addresses fifth-century prose authors whose work survives in significant degree (Herodotus, Thucydides), or whose projects are inherently interested in literary categorization (Gorgias). The second chapter continues the investigation, looking now at relevant fourth-century authors who show an explicit interest in literary categories and, especially, the place of poetry (Isocrates, Plato). The final chapter addresses Aristotle’s treatment of poetry. The foundation of the project is a semantic analysis of the language used to describe or single out a work or production as poetic. The primary terms are various POI- root words (e.g. [special characters omitted]); various words of song (e.g. [special characters omitted]); and several adjectives and adverbs that consistently appear in the period in discussions of literary distinctions. There emerges, when these terms are traced through time, a clear picture of the ongoing instability of literary categories. Meter is consistently put forward as a formal feature that marks off poetry from prose, for instance, but it is just as consistently rejected by the same authors as a satisfying distinction; instead, further categories defined by subtler features are introduced to more accurately describe literary productions, and those productions’ relationship to the poetic. Studying how the authors of this period distinguished literary categories makes it clear that our emphasis on the contrast between prose and poetry is too simplistic. Rather, the continual negotiations we see these authors engaged in when trying to define the poetic alerts us to the relative nature of literary categories, and how poetry only becomes what it is in contrast to what it is not.

DepositThoreau’s Poetics of Nature

Thoreau’s descriptions of natural phenomena display the care and acuteness of scientific observation, and this may have overshadowed recognition of his aesthetic sensibility. The perceptual details of Thoreau’s observations are pervaded by a sensitive appreciation of natural beauty. Moreover, the aesthetic in his account consists not only in the visual appreciation of visual beauty but is multi-sensory and engaged. Thoreau’s writings document a rich yet uncustomary understanding of the appreciation of nature as aesthetic engagement. Moreover, we find in his work ideas and themes that carry us in the direction of Dewey’s aesthetics and existential phenomenology, and the tenor of his perceptions becomes explicit in the emerging interest in environmental and everyday aesthetics.