The Poetics of Phonotextuality

Blog for a poetics seminar at the University of Maine

Course Description

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English 580
Topics in Poetics
University of Maine
Spring 2009
Professor Steve Evans

This seminar will offer a systematic introduction to an exciting new development in the field of poetics (and literary studies more generally), the emergence of “phonotextual” studies concerned with the analysis and interpretation of poems not just as printed texts but as voiced structures whose meaning can be “sounded” as well as seen. In addition to exploring the sonic archive of modern and contemporary poetry through on-line resources like PennSound and Ubuweb, we’ll work through a fascinating body of secondary literature from the fields of poetics, linguistics, literary criticism, prosody, speech pragmatics, psychoanalysis, and the new media as we seek to fashion a supple critical vocabulary for the description, interpretation, and evaluation of poetry soundfiles. Students will learn the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and to use sound editing and analysis software applications (Audacity, Praat) that allow us to visualize (and manipulate) the sound shape of poetic language. In addition to conventional writing assignments (including a substantial, research-based seminar paper), students can also expect to program a radio segment and to make regular postings to a course blog. One of the goals of the seminar will be to examine the way that concerns, concepts, and categories long associated with the field of poetics, from Aristotle to modern times, can be restored to relevance in our digital age.

Written by Steve Evans

January 4, 2009 at 10:28 pm

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