in class free write on Eugen Gomringer

Take ten minutes or so to free-write your reading or response to Eugen Gomringer’s “Silencio” and “Ping Pong.” Questions to ask yourself: how do you read this? how does his poetry reconfigure “reading”? what’s the meaning of the poems? how do we interpret them? what do you think is the larger argument he’s trying to make about language and/or poetry?


literary research overview


  1. What is the difference between a primary source and a secondary source? Should a research paper include primary sources, secondary sources, or both?
  2. What is an example of a nonacademic source and what do you use these nonacademic sources for?
  3. What is the difference between a library catalog and a database? Name some databases relevant to our class.
  4. What is the difference between Chinook and Prospector and Interlibrary Loan
  5. What is the difference between subject word searching and keyword searching
  6. What does “peer reviewed article” mean and why do you want to include these sources in your papers?
  7. Which literature-related databases are full text? What IS “full text”? Which database is the most complete and extensive for doing literary research?
  8. When you’re doing an advanced search, what function does the Boolean operator “and” serve?
  9. When you’re doing an advanced search, what function does the Boolean operator “or” serve?
  10. When you’re doing an advanced search, what function does the Boolean operator “not” serve?
  11. When you’re doing an advanced search, what function does the Boolean operator “*” or “?” serve?
  12. When evaluating a source for a research project, what aspects of the source should you consider?
  13. What do you need to do to conduct research on your computer at home/off-campus?



in-class small group work on Futurism

Give the class a reading or an interpretation of your assigned Futurist work; if possible, tie your reading back to in-class lectures on Futurism. Do whatever you can to avoid saying “I don’t know” and, as always, make sure all your claims about the text are supported by evidence. Finally, once again, keep in mind you can use this as the basis for your discussion forum post that’s due on Tuesday.

Group 1: Après la Marne

Group 2: Correction of Proofs + Desires in Speed

Group 3: Canguillo’s “Detonation” and Marinetti’s “A Landscape Heard”

Group 4: Marinetti’s “They Are Coming”

Group 5: Depero’s “Colors”

Group 6: (focus on explaining the key points and think through their motivation for writing this) Marinetti’s “Variety Theatre Manifesto”

more excerpts from Futurist manifestos

From The Futurist Cinema, by F.T. Marinetti, Bruno Corra, Emilio Settimelli, Arnaldo Ginna, Giacomo Balla, and Remo Chiti, November 15, 1916:

Dramatized states of mind on film.
Filmed dramas of objects.
Filmed words-in-freedom in movement (synoptic tables of Iyric values—dramas of humanized or animated letters—orthographic dramas—typographical dramas—geometric dramas—numeric sensibility, etc.).

Painting + sculpture + plastic dynamism + words-in-freedom + composed noises [intonarumori] + architecture + synthetic theatre = Futurist cinema.

From Destruction of Syntax—Imagination without Strings—Words-in-Freedom, by F.T. Marinetti June 15, 1913:

[on words in freedom] He will begin by brutally destroying the syntax of his speech…Punctuation and the right adjectives will mean nothing to him. He will despise subtleties and nuances of language. Breathlessly he will assault your nerves with visual, auditory, olfactory sensations, just as they come to him. The rush of steam-emotion will burst the sentence’s steampipe, the valves of punctuation, and the adjectival clamp. Fistfuls of essential words in no conventional order.

[on typographical revolution] I initiate a typographical revolution aimed at the bestial, nauseating idea of the book of passéist and D’Annunzian verse, on seventeenth-century handmade paper bordered with helmets, Minervas, Apollos, elaborate red initials, vegetables, mythological missal ribbons, epigraphs, and roman numerals. The book must be the Futurist expression of our Futurist thought. Not only that. My revolution is aimed at the so-called typographical harmony of the page, which is contrary to the flux and reflux, the leaps and bursts of style that run through the page. On the same page, therefore, we will use three or four colors of ink, or even twenty different typefaces if necessary. For example: italics for a series of similar or swift sensations, boldface for the violent onomatopoeias, and so on. With this typographical revolution and this multicolored variety in the letters I mean to redouble the expressive force of words…I combat Mallarmé’s static ideal with this typographical revolution that allows me to impress on the words (already free, dynamic, and torpedo-like) every velocity of the stars, the clouds, aeroplanes, trains, waves, explosives, globules of seafoam, molecules, and atoms.

Jean Toomer’s “Sound Poem” 1 and 2

I found the texts of Jean Toomer’s two “Sound Poems” from the early 1920s, written in New York. I wanted you to know that African Americans in the early 20th century had some interested in experimenting with Dadaist-inspired ways of writing. Wikipedia has a decent entry on Toomer if you’d like to know more. 



Mon sa me el kirimoor,
Ve dice kor, korrand ve deer,
Leet vire or sand vite,
Re sive tas tor;
Tu tas tire or re sim bire,
Rozan dire ras to por tantor,
Dorozire, soron,
Bas ber vind can sor, gosham,
Mon sa me el, a som on oor.


Vor cosma saga
Vor reeshen flaga
Vor gorden maga
Vor shalmer raga

in class discussion questions on F.T. Marinetti

Look at the last part of Marinetti’s futurist manifesto.

  1. What does Marinetti have against museums?
  2. What do you think about this statement: “Art, in fact, can be nothing but violence, cruelty, and injustice.” What does it mean? What do you think is urging Marinetti to write this? Can you think of reasons to agree with this statement?
  3. What do you think of this statement: “You have objections?—Enough! Enough! We know them… We’ve understood!…Our fine deceitful intelligence tells us that we are the revival and extension of our ancestors—Perhaps!… If only it were so!—But who cares? We don’t want to understand!… Woe to anyone who says those infamous words to us again!” Why does he want to embrace the irrational? What’s to be gained from the irrational, from lack of understanding?
  4. In the “Manifesto of the Futurist Painters,” they conclude with the following:

    With our enthusiastic adherence to Futurism, we will:
    1. Destroy the cult of the past, the obsession with the ancients, pedantry and academic formalism.
    2. Totally invalidate all kinds of imitation.
    3. Elevate all attempts at originality, however daring, however violent.
    4. Bear bravely and proudly the smear of “madness” with which they try to gag all innovators.
    5. Regard art critics as useless and dangerous.
    6. Rebel against the tyranny of words: “Harmony” and “good taste” and other loose expressions which can be used to destroy the works of Rembrandt, Goya, Rodin…
    7. Sweep the whole field of art clean of all themes and subjects which have been used in the past.
    8. Support and glory in our day-to-day world, a world which is going to be continually and splendidly transformed by victorious Science. The dead shall be buried in the earth’s deepest bowels! The threshold of the future will be swept free of mummies! Make room for youth, for violence, for daring!

    Do these statements hold true for us today? Do we still need to free ourselves from “the cult of the past”? Do we still need to free ourselves from “all kinds of imitation”? Why the embrace of madness? What’s problematic, do you suppose, about the use of the words “harmony” and “good taste”? Why the embrace of the everyday, the “day to day world”?