Short Course Description
In spite of Gertrude Stein's insistence that there is no such thing as repetition, repetition seems to insist on being everywhere, again and again. In poetry, the focus of this seminar, repetition is at the heart of endless poetic devices and operations. It is found on the level of very small units of sound (like the repetition of syllables in rhyme or stresses in meter), rhetoric (whether in explicitly repetitious forms like anaphora or in the conceptual repetition of metaphors), and all the way up to the organizing structures of many poetic forms (like sonnets and sestinas), and even higher up to the level of images and ideas. It also operates between levels, in what is called iconicity and, in fact, repetition is so central to poetry that some have suggested that it serve in/as its very definition. But, too, repetition surfaces in (if not dominates) multiple arenas of "everyday" or psychic life (to what extent, one may ask, is my life repetitious?). As such, repetition has been addressed not just in literature but in philosophy, psychoanalysis, linguistics, theology and other fields. In this seminar we will attempt to ask what repetition can "mean" and how it may operate in poems that exhibit vastly different poetic sensibilities and orientations. Finally, we will be particularly interested in the way repetition can serve as a link between poetic texts and psychic reality as described by Freud.
Full syllabus will be available to registered students only