Professor Eric Keenaghan Fall 2019
Note: Syllabi are the product of extensive intellectual labor; sharing them with others is a significant act of generosity. Please acknowledge Eric Keenaghan’s syllabus should you use it in your own teaching, research, and writing.
Twentieth-century artist Muriel Rukeyser (born 1913, died 1980) believed that the purpose of art was, as she wrote in The Life of Poetry (1949), to bring its creators and audiences “toward the most human.” She was always activist minded, though she tried to avoid categorical definitions of her politics and most aspects of her identity. The few identities she embraced were those of poet, woman, mother, and American. We will look at some criticism about Rukeyser and herassociates, but most of our studies will focus on her own writings and projects. A biography about Muriel Rukeyser does not yet exist. So we will approach her life through her work, in its various forms and phases. We will consider what it means to read a literary author biographically, as well as what it means to use literary and nonliterary writings to approach an activist and public intellectual, one who was infamously secretive about her private life.
Proceeding chronologically, we will study her poetry; her published treatise The Life of Poetry; excerpts from her published biographies of other historical figures; her translations; previously published but uncollected essays, photoessays, short fiction, journalism, and film scripts; previously unpublished but recently recovered drama; her published but long out-of-print children’s books; and—most probably—as of yet uncollected and not yet published items (like an unpublished verse-play, unpublished short essays, and unpublished lectures). We will study some of the issues of magazines in which Rukeyser’s work appeared, to get a sense of whom she was publishing alongside and which editors and poets championed her work. How might this large body of work—only a small bit of which we can read in one semester—provide us a fuller understanding of this author’s life and the changing historical contexts in which she was living? How might Rukeyser’s work help us formulate new understandings about the public and political responsibilities of American writers and artists, generally? How does she challenge our conceptions about the stability or flux of identity, vocation, and career? How should her unorthodox life and career force critics to reassess their presumptions and methodologies?
- To provide an introduction to the life of the progressive American literary author and activist Muriel Rukeyser, as surveyed through her work and related cultural histories about twentieth-century social and political history
- To introduce students to strategies for critically reading innovative literary forms, both formally and in conversation with critical articles, historical accounts, and discourses and artifacts from the literary period
- To develop students’ existing skills in critically engaging with primary literary texts, through creative and/or or analytical modes, and by using research of secondary sources (literary criticism, social and political history, poetics statements) to articulate their critical perspectives and interventions
- To develop students’ consciousness of how literature and related arts have been and can be used as potentially transformational social discourses and practices
- Cultivate an ethos of sharing one’s critical insights in classroom conversation and workshops in order to develop a community of learners, researchers, and creators
All required and recommended texts, listed below, are available for purchase or rental at the University Bookstore in the Campus Center. Some texts, indicated below with an asterisk (*), are available for 3-hour loan at the UA Library’s Reserve Desk. In addition, PDFs and online links to other readings are available through Blackboard. Some required out-of-print texts, not listed below, are available for 3-hour loan at the UA Library’s Reserve Desk. Consult the syllabus for all readings on UA Reserve and on Blackboard.
Required texts for purchase or rental:
- (1) Muriel Rukeyser, The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser (edited by Janet Kaufman and Anne Herzog) (University of Pittsburgh Press)
- (2) Muriel Rukeyser, The Life of Poetry (Paris Press)
- (3) Muriel Rukeyser, The Orgy (Paris Press)
- (4) Howard Brick and Christopher Phelps, Radicals in America (Cambridge University Press) Also required: A physical notebook or designated laptop folder to serve as your reading journal.
Recommended texts for purchase or rental:
(1) Muriel Rukeyser, The Book of the Dead (University of West Virginia Press)
Requirements and Assignments
Attendance and participation
Your active participation in class conversations is vital for a successful course, so participation and attendance factor into your final grade. Active participation includes answering questions, volunteering your insights and readings, and active listening (i.e., listening and note-taking), as well as cooperating in all workshop and working group activities. There are no extra credit assignments, neither to raise the participation grade nor to make up for an absence.
Please come to class having completed the required reading. Some readings may be stylistically, conceptually, and even linguistically challenging, so allot sufficient time to finish them. If you are unprepared because you have not read and/or lack assigned reading materials, I may dismiss you and that dismissal will count as an absence.
Written and creative assignments
In order to pass the course, you must complete all required written and/or creative assignments.
Descriptions of required assignments, with grade weights
The percentage indicated reflects the portion of the course grade fulfilled by each assignment. Individual assignments’ grade rubrics will be supplied on their respective specs sheets (to be posted on Blackboard at least 2 weeks before the due date), except for class participation and response papers whose grade rubrics are detailed below.
- Class attendance and participation (20%) (4 absences before penalty; automatic failure for course after 7 absences): Whether they are larger lecture formats or smaller seminar or workshop formats, all of my courses depend on students’ active participation and contributions to class discussions, as well as in breakout groups. So, attendance is required. There are no “excused” absences, except in cases in accordance with the University’s medical excuse policy (see below, under Course Policies) with appropriate, dated documentation (with specific dates). Anyone who misses more than 7 classes automatically fails this course because they would not have attended a reasonable number of class sessions (approximately three-quarters of the semester). Between 5 and 7 absences, one would lose 10 points per excessive day from the Attendance and Participation Grade (as in “B” to “C,” etc.).
A+ = excellent active and text-based participation in discussions, workshops, and breakout groups
A- to A = strong active and text-based participation in discussions, workshops, and breakout groups
B- to B+ = good and active listener, but tends to speak less in general class discussions though may be more verbal in workshops and breakout groups
C- to C+ = average to minimal participation in discussions, workshops, and/or disciplinary issues in class; perhaps periodically comes to class lacking assigned materials or sometimes underprepared
D- to D+ = often withdrawn and not participatory in both workshop and class; often lacking assigned materials and/or frequently underprepared
E = more than 7 absences and/or other disciplinary issues; also means failure for the course
- Reading journal (Ungraded, daily) (0%): After you complete the assigned reading, spend 15-20 minutes taking notes in your reading journal. Base your responses on the prompts that I provide on Blackboard, which will go live at the end of the previous class. This informal writing assignment will guide you as start to explore your insights and process the material before you come to class. Bring your reading journal to class every day. All semester I will regularly call on people to share their ideas from their journals. If conversation stalls or is slow to start, I may call on you or assign a free write to help get your ideas flowing.
- Response paper (2-3 pages, 10%): For this brief assignment, develop a more formalized version of a reading journal entry that you submit for a grade. There are no official prompts, but you may use the day’s study question as a prompt if you choose. Response papers are due on the last day that we read the text by Rukeyser about which you are writing. The syllabus notes for each day what texts are eligible topics for your response papers. You can choose to submit your response paper during any point of the semester except for the weeks indicated on the syllabus. I will ask at the start of each class who has prepared a response paper for that day. On those days, all writers will be class leaders and will be expected to participate actively, by sharing insights or asking questions. Response papers will be graded according to the rubric below:
A- to A = Excellent. Thoughtful, focused, well-written, text-based (i.e., refers to and cites specific details and/or passages from the primary text by
Rukeyser). The author briefly contextualizes their response in relationship to specifics from an assigned secondary text (history, literary criticism, etc.).
B- to B+ = Good. Thoughtful and text-based (i.e., refers to cites specific details and/or passages from the primary text by Rukeyser). However, needs a bit more focus, organization, and/or strengthening of writing. Contextual discussion may also need strengthening.
C- to C+ = Average. Thoughtful but a significant amount of additional focus, organization, and/or strengthening of writing needed. Context lacking. May need to address more specific details and/or passages from the primary text by Rukeyser.
D- to D+ = Poor. Writing and critical thought need significant strengthening.
Context lacking. Needs to address more specific details and/or passages from the primary text by Rukeyser.
E = Failing. Unacceptable work considering all criteria and/or essay not Submitted.
- Midterm essay (5-6 pages, 20%): This assignment entails a critical response to a primary text by Muriel Rukeyser (i.e., listed as “literature” on the syllabus or her book-length poetics essay The Life of Poetry). Your may be developed as a critical analyse, as ordinarily are required for most English courses. Alternately, you may take a risk and develop a creative nonfiction essay, where you cultivate your own individual voice and prose style. Either form will be thesis-driven and will reference 1-2 secondary sources from the syllabus (i.e., listed on the syllabus as “context” or “poetics” readings), though critical and creative papers articulate and present theses, and make use of sources, in different kinds of ways. More details will be supplied about two weeks before the due date. Interested students who receive a “B+” or better on their projects are eligible to revise them for publication on the blog of the website Muriel Rukeyser: A Living Archive (edited by Professor Elisabeth Däumer, Eastern Michigan University).
- Final project (3 parts, 50% total)—The final project will entail a critical or creative engagement with one of Muriel Rukeyser’s projects. This project may be approached as a further development and evolution of either the response paper or the midterm essay (but not both—i.e., if your midterm builds on the response paper, you must choose a new primary text by Rukeyser to respond to for the final project). Students interested in creative projects will be free to develop a project in whatever form they choose. Creative projects must be accompanied by a researched critical write-up establishing the problem statement and your project’s thesis, or how you are creatively seeking to change audiences’ understanding of that problem. The project will be researched (as all artists know, even creative projects must be researched!) and developed in stages over the last several weeks of the semester. Several classes will be designated as workshops to help you meet your target deadlines and to get feedback about your in-progress projects as you develop them. Interested students who receive an “A-” or “A” on their projects are eligible to revise them for publication on the website Muriel Rukeyser: A Living Archive (edited by Professor Elisabeth Däumer, Eastern Michigan University). The assignment’s major components are detailed below. Additional specs for all parts of this assignment will be provided on Blackboard later in the semester.
- Proposal (3 paragraphs, 10%): For this initial stage, you will submit a preliminary proposal that performs three critical moves, each in a separate paragraph. Paragraph #1 (problem statement): Narrate a “real world” problem or issue that frames your point of entry to thinking about the value of one work by Muriel Rukeyser and why general audiences would find it interesting or significant. Paragraph #2 (thesis statement): Develop a very brief interpretation of one or two key passages or moments from the Rukeyser piece that informs your argument about how it specifically redresses the problem you have outlined above. Paragraph #3 (plan of action): Detail how you plan to go about supporting your thesis. What else do you plan to research? For critical papers, what other portions of the primary text do you think are significant to consider closely in your analysis? For creative projects, what exactly are you planning to do and why is it a way of commenting, critically, on Rukeyser’s address of the problem and what medium or form are you planning to work in? For everyone, what questions do you have? All students, but especially students working on creative projects, are encouraged to come see me during office hours to discuss their projects in the early development stages, before or after the proposal stage.
- Finding and using sources worksheet (10%): This assignment requires you to find and assess three critical sources not on the syllabus about the Rukeyser, her primary text, and/or the issue you have chosen as the subject of your final project. You will find the sources from database searches, put the bibliographic information in MLA format, annotate in 3-4 sentences each source’s thesis and main argument, and note why you believe this source is good for either establishing a “critical frame” for your original reading of the poem or supplying a “local support” for a specific point you plan to make in your analysis.
- Final project (varying formats and lengths, 30%): The finished product. Critical essays: 10-12 pages with 3-5 secondary sources, at least 1 of which must be from off-syllabus. Creative projects: A major project [confer with me before the proposal stage to agree on form and length], plus a 3- to 4-page critical write-up using 2 to 4 secondary sources, at least 1 of which must be from off-syllabus). Interested students who receive an “A-” or better on their projects are eligible to revise them for publication on the blog of the website Muriel Rukeyser: A Living Archive (edited by Professor Elisabeth Däumer, Eastern Michigan University). Published projects are urged to share their work publicly at the English Department’s annual Undergraduate Research and Writing Conference, to be hosted in April 2020 (exact date TBD).
CALENDAR OF READINGS AND ASSIGNMENTS
Each day’s assignments are divided into categories:
“Context” = Essays or book chapters that either are literary criticism (i.e., a critical essay written about a literary, social, political, or cultural issue) or a historical document (from the literary period studied).
“Poetics”= Secondary texts by Muriel Rukeyser that provides direct insight into her life, political views, and ideas about art. Includes essays, memoirs, journalism, and book reviews.
“Literature” = A primary text, usually by Muriel Rukeyser. These texts—including biographies, poems, short films, short stories, drama, and children’s books —will be the primary objects of our discussion. For each, the year of composition (“comp.”), publication (“pub.”), or production is listed on the syllabus.
“Writing assignment” = Due dates for graded writing assignments submitted. Note that response papers are due on the last day we are covering a specific primary text.
“Rec.” = Recommended for further study, but not required. I am likely to refer to these texts in my set-up lectures. They may be counted as on-syllabus sources for the midterm essay and the final project.
UNIT ONE: THE GREAT DEPRESSION THROUGH THE SECOND WORLD WAR
Week One—An Introduction to Muriel Rukeyser and the Politics of Life-Writing
No response papers accepted this week.
Tuesday August 27
Introduction to the course: Overview of syllabus and requirements.
Literature (poem): Muriel Rukeyser, “Effort at Speech Between Two People” (BB, projection)
Thursday August 29
Context (literary criticism): Adrienne Rich, “Muriel Rukeyser: Her Vision” (BB); Eric Keenaghan, from “Biocracy” (pp. 258-268 only) (DB/MLA)
Poetics (memoirs): Muriel Rukeyser, Statement for Under Forty (1944) (BB) and “The Education of a Poet” (comp. 1976; The Writer on Her Work, 1980) (BB)
Literature (poetry): Muriel Rukeyser, from Theory of Flight (1935) in CP: “Poem Out of Childhood” and “Three Sides of a Coin”
Rec. poetics (essay): Muriel Rukeyser, The Life of Poetry (1949): Chapter 12
Week Two—Vassar College and Student Radicalism in the 1930s
Tuesday September 3
Response papers accepted on Rukeyser’s journalism (choose one essay).
Context (history): Robert Cohen, “Activist Impulses” (BB)
Poetics (journalism): Muriel Rukeyser, signed articles in Vassar Miscellany News (BB): “The Color of Coal Is Black” (1932) and “Students Fight for Free Speech at City College” (1932) (BB); “The Flown Arrow: The Aftermath of the Sacco and Vanzetti Case” (Housatonic, 1932) (BB)
Rec. context (history): Howard Brick and Christopher Phelps, Intro to Radicals in America
Thursday September 5
Response papers accepted on assigned poems from Theory of Flight.
Poetics (journalism): Muriel Rukeyser, “Modern Trends” (Vassar Miscellany News, 1932) (BB) Poetics (book review): Muriel Rukeyser, “With Leftward Glances” (rev. of John Wheelwright) (New Masses, 1934) (BB)
Literature (poetry) and context (archive): Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, “Social Poets Issue” edited by Horace Gregory May 1936 (BB): Read Muriel Rukeyser’s contributions and Gregory’s essay “Prologue as Epilogue” and William Phillips and Philip Rahv’s essay “Private Experience and Public Philosophy”
Literature (poetry): Muriel Rukeyser, from Theory of Flight (1935) in CP: “Metaphor to Action,” “Citation for Horace Gregory,” “Cats and a Cock,” and “The Blood Is Justified”
Rec. literature (poetry): John Wheelwright, “Questions and Answers” sequence (1932) (BB)
Week Three: Two Formative Experiences—Scottsboro and Spain
Response papers accepted on assigned poems from Theory of Flight.
Tuesday September 10
Context (history): Britt Haas, “The Scottsboro Boys” (BB)
Context (archive): F. Raymond Daniell, “Bailiffs Isolate Scottsboro Jury” and “‘Observers’ Leave Scottsboro Trial” (New York Times, 1933) (DB/New York Times)
Poetics (journalism): Muriel Rukeyser and Edward Sagarin, “The Decatur Incident” (New York Times, 1933) (DB/New York Times); “A Call to Action” (Student Review, 1933); “Starting the Ball Rolling: The Student Conference on Negro Student Problems” (Student Review, 1933) (BB) “From Scottsboro to Decatur” (Student Review, 1933) (BB)
Literature (poetry): Muriel Rukeyser, from Theory of Flight (1935) in CP: “Theory of Flight” sequence (pp. 21-48)
Thursday September 12
Response papers accepted on Savage Coast chapter or “Mediterranean”
Context (literary criticism): Rowena Kennedy-Epstein, “Whose Fires Would Not Stop” (MLA)
Poetics (journalism): Muriel Rukeyser, “Barcelona on the Barricades” (New Masses, 1936) (BB); “Barcelona 1936” (Life and Letters To-day, 1936) (BB)
Literature (fiction): Muriel Rukeyser, Savage Coast (excerpt) (comp. 1936; post. pub.) (BB) Literature (poetry): Muriel Rukeyser, from U.S. 1 (1938) in CP: “Mediterranean”
Rec. context (literary criticism): Cary Nelson, “Poetry Chorus: How Much for Spain?” (BB)
Rec. poetics (memoir): Muriel Rukeyser, “We Came for Games” (Esquire, 1974) (BB)
Week Four: The Politics of Solidarity and Documenting the Gauley Bridge Tragedy
Tuesday September 17
Response papers accepted on The Book of the Dead.
Context (literary criticism): John Lowney, “Buried History” (BB)
Literature (poetry): Muriel Rukeyser, from U.S. 1 (1938) in CP: “The Book of the Dead” sequence (pp. 73-111)
Rec. context (archive): US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Labor, transcripts of hearings related to Gauley Bridge (1936) (BB)
Rec. context (history): Muriel Rukeyser, The Book of the Dead (stand-alone edition): “Employees of Rinehart & Dennis Company and Camp Followers Who Died” (pp. 53-9)
Rec. poetics (book review): Muriel Rukeyser, “Long Step Ahead Taken by Gregory in New Epic Poem” (rev. of Horace Gregory) (Daily Worker, 1935) (BB)
Thursday September 19
Response papers accepted on “The Book of the Dead”
Context (literary criticism): Justin Parks, “Muriel Rukeyser’s Poetics of Extension and the Politics of Documentary Photography” (MLA)
Poetics (book review): Muriel Rukeyser, “We Aren’t Sure…We’re Wondering” (rev. of Archibald MacLeish) (The New Masses, 1938) (BB)
Literature (poetry): Muriel Rukeyser, from U.S. 1 (1938) in CP: Reread “The Road,” “Gauley Bridge,” and “The Book of the Dead” (poem)
Rec. context (archive): Muriel Rukeyser, The Book of the Dead (stand-alone edition): Nancy Naumberg, photographs of Gauley Bridge sites (pp. 5, 22, 25)
Rec. literature and photography: Walker Evans, select WPA photographs (c.1935-1936) (BB); James Agee, from Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941) (BB)
Week Five: Image and Imagination—Humanizing and Remembering Gauley Bridge
Tuesday September 24
Context (literary criticism): Catherine Gander, “The Poetics of the Photo-text” (ERES) Poetics (essay): Muriel Rukeyser, The Life of Poetry (1949): Chapter 9
Literature (photoessay): Muriel Rukeyser (narrative) and others (photographs), “Worlds Alongside” (Coronet, 1939) (BB)
Literature (poetry): Muriel Rukeyser, from U.S. 1 (1938) in CP: Reread “Absalom,” “George Robinson: Blues,” “Power,” and “The Dam”
Thursday September 26
Response papers accepted on “Gauley Bridge.” Today we will review the midterm essay specs.
Context (history): David Davidson, “Depression America and the Rise of Social Documentary Film” (DB/JSTOR)
Literature (film treatment): Muriel Rukeyser, “Gauley Bridge: Four Episodes from a Scenario” (Films, 1940) (BB)
Rec. context (archive): Muriel Rukeyser, The Book of the Dead (stand-alone edition): Muriel Rukeyser, “Gauley Bridge & Environs” (drawing) (frontispiece)
Rec. context (literary criticism): Julius Lobo, “From ‘The Book of the Dead’ to ‘Gauley Bridge’” (DB/MLA)
Week Six: Poetry and Antifascist Propaganda during the Second World War
Tuesday October 1
Response papers accepted on The Life of Poetry or poems from Wake Island or Beast in View.
Context (history): Howard Brick and Christopher Phelps, Radicals in America: Chapter 1 Context (archive): Archibald MacLeish, “Words Are Not Enough” (The Nation, 1943) (DB/Points of View)
Context (archive): Office of War Information and other agencies, Propaganda posters including Norman Rockwell’s The Four Freedoms (Saturday Evening Post, 1943) (BB)
Poetics (journalism): Muriel Rukeyser, “Words and Images” (New Republic, 1943) (DB/Points of View)
Literature (creative nonfiction) and poetics: Muriel Rukeyser, The Life of Poetry (1949): Introduction and Chapters 1 – 3
Literature (poetry): Muriel Rukeyser, Wake Island (1942) in CP; and from Beast in View (1944) in CP: “Letter to the Front” (sequence)
Recommended context (literary criticism): Eric Keenaghan, “The Life of Politics” (DB/MLA); Jeanne Perreault, “Egodocuments and the Ethics of Propaganda” (BB)
Rec. context (archive): Unsigned, “Miss Rukeyser Quitting O.W.I. Over ‘Policies’” (New York Herald Tribune, 1943) (BB)
Rec. poetics (essays): Muriel Rukeyser, “The Usable Truth” (Poetry, 1941) (DB/JSTOR); “The Fear of Poetry” (Twice a Year, 1941) (BB); “War and Poetry” (The War Poets, 1945) (BB)
Thursday October 3
Response papers accepted on The Life of Poetry or Elegies.
Poetics (essay): Muriel Rukeyser, The Life of Poetry (1949): Chapters 4 – 6
Literature (poetry): Muriel Rukeyser, Elegies (comp. 1939-c.1945, pub. 1949) in CP: Focus on the second, fourth, sixth, and eighth Elegies
Rec. poetics (book review): Muriel Rukeyser, “Nearer to the Well-Spring” (rev. of Rainer Maria Rilke) (Kenyon Review, 1943) (DB/JSTOR)
Rec. literature (poetry): Rainer Maria Rilke, The Duino Elegies (1923) (BB)
Week Seven: Putting a Fantastical Version of the War on Stage, as a Parlor Drama
NOTE: Muriel Rukeyser’s literary estate has granted us special permission to study Rukeyser’s unpublished play The Middle of the Air. To observe copyright restrictions, we will access it through a read-only link to a file-shared doc. The file cannot be downloaded or circulated.
Tuesday October 8
Response papers accepted on The Middle of the Air.
Context (literary criticism): Stefania Heim, “Muriel Rukeyser’s Experimental Feminine Poetics of War” (DB/MLA)
Poetics (essay): Muriel Rukeyser, The Life of Poetry (1949): Chapter 8
Literature (play): Muriel Rukeyser, The Middle of the Air (1945) (BB): Editor’s note and Act 1 Literature (poem): Muriel Rukeyser, from Body of Waking (1958) in CP: “Hero Speech” (p.346)
Rec. poetics (book review): Muriel Rukeyser, “On Assignment” (rev. of several books about war aviation) (New Republic, 1943) (DB/Points of View)
Thursday October 10
Response papers accepted on The Middle of the Air.
Literature (play): Muriel Rukeyser, The Middle of the Air (1945) (BB): Act 2
Rec. context (literary criticism): Elisabeth Däumer, “Wanting More from Mr. Eliot” (DB/MLA); Lexi Rudnitsky, “Planes, Politics, and Protofeminist Poetics” (DB/MLA)
Week Eight: Midterms
Tuesday October 15
No class: Fall Break
Thursday October 17
Midterm Essay due. Creative nonfiction or critical analysis, 5-6pages. Bring your completed essays to my office (Humanities 343) by the end of our usual class period.
Week Nine: One World and One Life— Reimagining America’s Democratic Promise and Race Relations after the War
Tuesday October 22
Response papers accepted on assigned excerpt from One Life.
Context (history): Howard Brick and Christopher Phelps, Radicals in America: Chapter 2 Literature (verse biography): Muriel Rukeyser, “Open System” from One Life (1957) (BB) Rec. poetics (essay): Muriel Rukeyser, The Life of Poetry (1949): Chapters 10, 11, and 13 Rec. context (literary history): Greg Barnhisel, “Freedom, Individualism, Modernism” (BB); Alan Wald, “The Antinomies of a Proletarian Avant-Garde” (BB)
Rec. context (archive): F.B.I., Surveillance file on Muriel Rukeyser (1939-1973) (BB); Wendell Willkie, “One World” (One World, 1943) (BB)
Rec. literature (poetry): Muriel Rukeyser, from Body of Waking (1958) in CP: poems in the final section (pp. 379-399)
Thursday October 24
Response papers accepted on All the Way Home.
Poetics (journalism): Muriel Rukeyser, “She Came to Us” (New Statesman, 1958) (BB) Literature (film): Muriel Rukeyser (script) and Lee Bobker (director), All the Way Home (1957) (BB)
Rec. literature (film): Muriel Rukeyser (script) and Irving Lerner (director), A Place to Live (1941) (BB)
Week Ten: Gender, Sexuality, and Single Motherhood during the Cold War
Tuesday October 29
Response papers accepted on “Waterlily Fire.”
Context (archive): Betty Friedan, “The Problem That Has No Name” (The Feminine Mystique,1963) (BB)
Context (history): Stephanie Coontz, “Demystifying The Feminine Mystique” (ERES) Poetics (essay): Muriel Rukeyser, “Many Keys” (comp. 1957, posthumously pub.) (BB)
Literature (poetry): Muriel Rukeyser, “Waterlily Fire” (long poem) Waterlily Fire (1962) in CP (pp. 405-410)
Rec. context (literary criticism): Eric Keenaghan “There Is No Glass Woman” (pub. with Rukeyser’s “Many Keys”) (BB)
Rec. context (paintings and art history): Claude Monet, Water Lilies tryptich (1914-1926) (BB); Ann Temkin and Nora Laurence, Claude Monet: Water Lilies (BB)
Rec. poetics (essay): Muriel Rukeyser, “Women of Words: A Prefatory Note” (The World Split Open, 1974) (BB)
Thursday October 31
Response papers accepted on “A Pane of Glass” or Come Back, Paul.
Literature (short story): Muriel Rukeyser, “A Pane of Glass” (Discovery, 1953) (BB) Literature (children’s book): Muriel Rukeyser, Come Back, Paul (1955) (Reserve)
Rec. poetics (book review): Muriel Rukeyser, “A Simple Theme” (rev. of Charlotte Marletto) (Poetry, 1949) (DB/JSTOR)
Rec. literature (photoessay): Muriel Rukeyser (narrative) and others (photographs), “Adventures of Children” (Coronet, 1939) (BB)
Rec. literature (children’s book): Muriel Rukeyser (story) and Minton Charles (photographs), Mazes (1970) (Reserve)
Rec. literature (poetry): Muriel Rukeyser, from Body of Waking (1958) in CP: “A Birth,” “Mother Garden’s Round,” “Night Feeding,” “The Return,” “Unborn Song,” “Children, the Sandbar, That Summer,” “The Birth of Venus”
Week Eleven: Looking Outside the U.S. and Reimagining Sexuality and the Emotional Life during the New Left Era
Tuesday November 5
Response papers accepted on The Orgy.
Context (history): Howard Brick and Christopher Phelps, Radicals in America: Chapter 3 Poetics (commentary): Muriel Rukeyser, “Not a Novel” (New York Review of Books, 1965) (BB) Literature (memoir): Muriel Rukeyser, The Orgy (1965): “Gathering Day”
Rec. context (literary criticism): Amy Hildreth Chen, “Context for The Orgy” (BB)
Thursday November 7
Response papers accepted on The Orgy.
Today we will review the specs for the final project and discuss how to develop a proposal. Literature (memoir): Muriel Rukeyser, The Orgy (1965): Finish book.
Week Twelve: The Vietnam Conflict, Amnesty, and the Unverifiable Truth
Tuesday November 12
Response papers accepted on one of the assigned poem sequences, either “The Speed of Darkness” or “Breaking Open.”
Context (history): Howard Brick and Christopher Phelps, Radicals in America: Chapter 4 Poetics (lecture/essay): Muriel Rukeyser, “Poetry and the Unverifiable Fact” (Scripps College Bulletin, 1968) (BB)
Literature (poetry): Muriel Rukeyser, from The Speed of Darkness (1968) in CP: “The Speed of Darkness” (sequence, pp. 463-468); and from Breaking Open (1973) in CP: “Breaking Open” (sequence, pp. 519-531)
Rec. context (archive): Barry Wallenstein, “Muriel Rukeyser and the Politics of Poetry” (Margins, 1975) (BB)
Rec. literature (poetry): Muriel Rukeyser, from The Speed of Darkness (1968) in CP: “The War Comes into My Room” and “Poem (I lived in the first century of world wars…)”; and from Breaking Open (1973) in CP: “Searching / Not Searching” (sequence), “Facing Sentencing,” and “Flying to Hanoi”
Thursday November 14
Response papers accepted on the poem sequence “The Gates.”
Poetics (journalism): Muriel Rukeyser, “Free: What Do It Mean?” (Washington Evening Star and Daily News, 1972) (BB)
Literature (poetry): Muriel Rukeyser, from The Gates (1976) in CP: “The Gates” (sequence, pp. 561-568)
Rec. context (history): Howard Brick and Christopher Phelps, Radicals in America: Chapter 5 Rec. context (archive): Smith Hempstone, “It’s All a Matter of Proportion” (Oakland Tribune, 1972) (BB)
Rec. poetics (interview): Interview with Anne Fremantle on literary censorship in Iran, Korea, and Ghana (WBAI, 1976) (BB)
Rec. literature (poetry): Kim Chi Ha, “Five Thieves” (1970) (BB)
Rec. context (film): Richard O. Moore (director), The Writer in America: Muriel Rukeyser (1977), includes Rukeyser’s complete reading of “The Gates” (BB)
Week Thirteen: Final Project, Part 1: Proposals and Starting Research
Tuesday November 19
Proposal for final project due in class today
Workshop on project development and research methods
Thursday November 21
Workshop on research. Bring in your research worksheet, plus copies of the on-syllabus texts you are planning to use.
(If you wish to meet with me on Tuesday Nov. 26, schedule an appointment with me before you leave class today.)
Week Fourteen: Final Project, Part 2: Project Development
Tuesday November 26
No Class: Optional conferences
(Regular office hours cancelled: Scheduled conferences only.)
Thursday November 28
No Class: Thanksgiving Recess
Week Fifteen: Final Project, Part 3: Workshop and Sharing Sessions
Tuesday December 3
Finding and using sources worksheet due in class today
In-class evaluations & workshop on your final projects
Thursday December 5
Sharing sessions on your in-progress projects
Final projects are due by Monday December 16 at 12:00 noon, via BB. Students are encouraged to submit before the deadline, if possible. If you are working on a creative project in another format or a medium that cannot be uploaded to Blackboard, please consult with me before the last day of class about submitting your work.
To cite this syllabus in MLA 8: Eric Keenaghan. “Syllabus: Women Writers–The Lives of Muriel Rukeyser.” Muriel Rukeyser: A Living Archive, https://murielrukeyser.emuenglish.org/2020/09/07/syllabus-women-writers-the-lives-of-muriel-rukeyser/.