ENGLISH 346 - Performance Studies
Winter 2020, Section 001 - Public Poetry
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:


Poems in presidential inaugurations. Poems on trial. Communities of poets. Poems with archival footage. Poetry’s influence on economic development programs in Jamaica. Poems in performance from the Nuyorican Café to Poetry Night in Ann Arbor. Poems in the built environment—embedded in sidewalks, inscribed in monuments, posted on buses and subways. We cover this and more in six units: Unit I: The Toolkit: A Critical Vocabulary for Poems, Poetic Events, and Public Experience. Unit II: Poetic Communities. Unit III: Poetry Makes History. Unit IV: Poetry and the Nation. ¬Unit V: Poetry and Place. Unit VI: How Poetry Gets Out There: Performance and Publication “Public” is our keyword: public language, public places, public history, public funds, public identities, the public good, publication, performance. How do different media, different motives, and different artistic choices make poetry “public” in different ways? We will read important essays on the public sphere, including articles on the black public sphere and feminist and queer counterpublics. We will examine trends in grassroots and grasstops cultural production. We will also, of course, read poems--poems that play a role in national ceremonies like presidential inaugurations; poems that are inseparable from social and political movements; poems that bring large or intimate publics into being; poems that dramatize the experience of thinking about the social self; and poems that were put on trial--literally.

Classes will be highly interactive, and attendance is required. In addition to written assignments, student groups will give class presentations on a selected public poetry project, accompanied by a visual artifact (powerpoint, handout, model, map). The class will produce a calendar and map of recommended poetry events in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Detroit, and a system for sharing students’ written reviews of the events they attend. We will attend some events as a group, possibly including a visit to the Wolverine Press, a “publishing exploratory” with handset type run by graduate students. Visitors to class will share their experience as poets, teachers of poetry, and leaders of cultural organizations. 3-4 books required, including two volumes of poetry by living writers.

Course Requirements:

Writing matters a lot. Written work includes the following: Two poetry event reviews and frequent homework using a critical response template to nurture informed class discussion. A four-page midterm paper will build skills needed for the final project. Developed through a series of preparatory assignments (prospectus, draft, class presentation), this final assignment asks each student to create a poetry anthology on a theme of his or her choosing. The anthology consists of an 8-page critical introduction and a selection of ten poems. Students may select one of several format options, e.g. handmade book, zine, digital artifact, or thoughtfully formatted Word document.


ENGLISH 346 - Performance Studies
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
 In Person
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM

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