ENG 429 - Listen! Poetry in the Age of the MP3

Prof. Steve Evans • Fall 2008 • English DepartmentUniversity of Maine

Basic Information

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 3:30-4:45pm in DPC 113. Participants should also plan to attend events in the New Writing Series on Thursday afternoons (4:30-6pm).

Course Description

In this course we'll explore the sonic archive of modern and contemporary poetry, focusing on the art of interpreting poems not just as printed texts but as voiced structures whose meaning can be "sounded" as well as seen. In addition to hearing, seeing, and reading a wide variety of poetry, we'll make use of secondary literature from the fields of literary criticism, poetics, linguistics, prosody, speech pragmatics, and the new media to fashion a supple critical vocabulary for the description, interpretation, and evaluation of poetry soundfiles. We'll also work with sound editing and analysis software applications (Audacity, Praat) that allow us to visualize the sound shape of poetic language. In addition to conventional writing assignments, students can also expect to program a radio segment and to make regular postings to a course blog.

The course blog, which includes a reading syllabus and track list, along with other course materials, can be found here.

Required Texts

• Bernstein, Charles, ed. Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word. Oxford UP, 1998. ISBN 0-19-510992-4
• Eisenberg, Evan. The Recording Angel: Music, Records, and Culture from Aristotle to Zappa. 2nd Ed. Yale UP, 2005. ISBN 0-300-09904-1
• Tsur, Reuven. What Makes Sound Patterns Expres
sive? The Poetic Mode of Speech Perception. Duke UP, 1992. ISBN 0-8223-1170-6

Internet Resources

• Because this course will rely heavily on internet resources, students should arrange to have regular access to the world wide web.
• Students will need access to iTunes or a comparable mp3 player.
• We will work with the free sound editing software Audacity.
• We will also make use of Praat, a free software for phonetic analysis.
• We will make extensive use of the poetry sound archives at Pennsound and Ubuweb.

Assignments & Evaluation

• Frequent brief assignments, including listening journals, vocal studies, blog postings, audio transcripts, and event reports. (45%)
• Demonstrated familiarity with International Phonetic Alphabet. (5%)
• Final project, designed in consultation with instructor. (30%)
• Class attendance and participation. (10%, see below)
• New Writing Series attendance, minimum of four events. (10%)

Plagiarism & Academic Dishonesty

Plagiarism—the presentation of someone else's writing and/or thinking as your own—will result in immediate failure of the class and notification of the appropriate University authorities. Other forms of academic dishonesty are, likewise, not tolerated.

Attendance & Participation

Attendance of this course is mandatory. If you miss more than two sessions (the equivalent of one week of class time) without a medical excuse, your semester grade may be lowered one full grade. Students missing more than four sessions may not pass the class.

Your informed participation is a key ingredient to the success of this class. Come to class with questions and comments at the ready.

Disability Notice

If you wish to request an accommodation for a disability, please speak with me or with Ann Smith, Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities (Onward Building, 1-2319) as early as possible in the semester.