by Joyelle McSweeney on Oct.17, 2012
Just for fun I thought I’d post the description I just wrote up for my Spring seminar here at the Iowa School for sensitive plants.
Poetical Effusion: On Theatricality, Form and Affect
“I have repented of many things,” wrote Thomas Wentworth Higginson, “but I have never repented of my first poetical Effusion.”
This course will be an inquiry into the enigmatic matter of affect in art, affect’s palpability and obscurity, its ephemeral/ineradicable effects. We will consider how different forms, genres, performances and media stage affect; how various forms, genres and media either fail or succeed (or over-succeed) in transmitting specific affects; and how affect can work like an uncanny force pushing through form, media and material to upend, destroy, or reconstitute the text , the performance, and/or the world. Topics along the way will likely include the problem of pain and the porousness of the body; doubles, substances, solutions and substitutes; trash and stuff; kitsch; palpability and obscurity; interiority and exteriority; gender, drag and impersonation; memory and memory-holes; artifice and sincerity; costumes, masks, sets, sound, and other ‘special’ effects.
Course reading/viewing will include classical and contemporary drama, prose genres, poetry, film, video, and theory. Likely texts include classic and modern plays such as Medea, Philocetes, Duchess of Malfi, The Changeling, and contemporary plays by Genet, Soyinka, Dürrenmatt, Heiner Mueller, Sarah Kane and Johannes Göransson; prose by Kathy Acker, Freud, Poe, Marguerite Duras, Cesar Aira, and Clarice Lispector; poetry by Ronaldo Wilson, Raul Zurita, Chales Baudelaire, Tytti Heikkinen, Hiromi Ito, and Sylvia Plath; and films and video by Kenneth Anger, Jack Smith, Ryan Trecartin, Steve Roggenbuck, and Nathalie Djurberg. Possible sources for our theory armature may include the Brothers Grimm, Brett Walker’s Toxic Archipelago, Elaine Scarry’s Body in Pain, and religious art and martyrology, as well as literary theory and essays by Daniel Tiffany, Brian Massumi, Bhabha, Cixous, Barthes, Kristeva, Clement, and Kim Hyesoon.
This seminar will be run on a discussion based model; participants will be responsible for leading discussion in pairs, troikas, or other arrangements on various weeks. Attendance is mandatory. See you there! Goth attire welcome but not required.