Course No.

FLCL 405


Capstone Course: Autobiography and Poetry


Sandra Moussempès


This advanced seminar for seniors, taught in English, is designed to "cap" the studies of students in Foreign Languages, Cultures and Literatures. Each year a foreign guest author will lead this course on recent trends in the literature of his or her language(s), with emphasis on issues of particular importance to young authors writing today. The purpose of the course is to expose this specially qualified group of students, who have spent three and more years honing their skills as readers, with a living literature in the process of evolving, presented to them by a writer whose own work is part of this evolution. At the conclusion of the course, each student will have the choice of presenting a polished work of translation, a piece of original writing ( in English or in another language ), or an essay on one or more of the works read during the semester. These texts will be collected in a Capstone Journal, which will be published on a yearly basis. This 2002 Capstone seminar examines the question of autobiography in contemporary French and Anglo-Saxon poetry (taught in translation for non-speakers). This course is designed as a workshop where students will actively seek to understand how the autobiographical voice juggles the intimate, the familiar, with the impersonal world of objects. How can the painstaking description of inanimate objects lead us into the highly personal realms of memory and selfhood? The group will be asked to observe literature in the making by performing "creative" exercises: describing simple and neutral objects, narrating dreams by using Surrealism's écriture automatique, and discussing translations of particular works. Some of the poets considered will be Jacques Roubaud, Anne-Marie Albiach (both for her compositional and typographical work), Francis Ponge (to illustrate the question of description and impersonality), and a host of young French poets. Through the study of typography and graphics, the course hopes to bridge poetry and the visual arts. The Capstone Journal will show the evolution of each student through these various interlocking modes of experimentation. This seminar will investigate the link between contemporary poetry and visual arts. The teacher will work on several young French poet as well as different visual artist. She will explore the similarities in the creative process, visualization of the words, rhythm and self-expression (on a personal event as a diary). Finally, she will examine the senior projects that course participants are engaged in writing and discuss the ways in which students, too form part of literary history.

Note: Sandra Moussempès is a French poet who has done residences in Japan, Germany, England, and was the recipient of the 1995 Prix de Rome. She is fluent in French, Italian, and English. She is also a musician and hopes her seminar can include a series of musical collaborations with a musician to assist students' creations.