Prose poetry

In my literature class (Humanities 2), we’ve set things up so that there will generally be some kind of “light” reading on the days papers are due — nothing too stressful, but still material to have some kind of discussion. I hadn’t initially specified what that would be for the poetry unit, but in the last couple days, I decided that I would hand out two “prose poems” — namely, Baudelaire’s “Counterfeit Money” and Kafka’s Odradek story — at the beginning of class, which we’ll read out loud together and then discuss (with the option for students to do poems from our anthology as well).

My main goal for this experiment is to see what naive readers do with stories that have been heavily “theorized” — obviously the Baudelaire story is famous in large part for the attention Derrida paid to it, and Odradek is a “regular” in many strands of literary theory.

Do you ever do experiments like this, readers? How have they turned out? (I’ll drop into comments tomorrow with an update.)

3 thoughts on “Prose poetry

  1. The way it went followed the general pattern of the way each of my sections has been going. Neither class really intuitively “got” why Odradek might be so productive of thought — they found the idea that the Baudelaire story would be important for thinking through issues related to generosity, etc., much more plausible. In neither case did the concept of “prose poetry” seem especially helpful to them.

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