WRITING AND THE MUSEUM
Instructor: Amy England
Ekphrasis, or writing about art, has a long and fascinating
history. This course is designed use the School of the Art
Institute’s close relationship to the museum to explore this
intersection. Students will study and create texts based
on pieces in the museum, in a variety of genres. Every
week, we’ll meet at six o’clock on Thursday in the lobby of the
museum. At seven thirty, we’ll take a fifteen minute break
and regroup in our regular classroom.
The class is pass/fail; passing requires that the students have
no more than two absences, and do all six of the creative
assignments. 40% of the grade is based on knowledgeable
discussion of the reading. Creative projects will be
discussed in workshop on Monday and should be emailed to the
other members by 12 noon on Sunday.
The final project, which is weighted equally with the other five
assignments, is a contribution to a collection of writings on a
single museum piece to be chosen by the class, and is due in
class on Tuesday, Aug. 16, or by email on noon of Wednesday,
BOOKS: The following texts are required for the class.
Julian Barnes: A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters
Jonathan Saffron Foer: A Convergence of Birds: Original
Fiction and Poetry Inspired by Joseph Cornell
James A. W. Heffernan: Museum of Words: The Poetics of
Ekphrasis from Homer to Ashbery
Edward Hirsch, editor: Transforming Vision: Writers on Art
I Monday, 7/11: Handout:
Keats, Shelley, Williams, Auden
Tuesday, 7/12: prose
selections from Hirsch, especially Wilbur, Mitchell, Davenport,
Gibbons, Stewart, Sontag, Hearon
Thursday, 7/14: Museum:
discussion of pieces from Hirsch, notes on subject of essay.
Class: finish prose selections
II Monday, 7/18: Workshop:
Short impressionistic essay on piece from museum. Hirsch:
poems by Sandburg, Stevens, Loy
Tuesday, 7/19: Finish
workshop. Hirsch: poems by Howard, Dove, Kunitz, Levine,
Wright, Holub, Graham
Thursday, 7/21: Museum:
discussion of pieces from Hirsch, notes on subject of
poem. Class: finish discussion of poems in
III Monday, 7/25: Workshop
on poems. Hirsch: stories by Yau, Simic, Baxter
Tuesday, 7/26: Finish
workshop, begin Barnes.
Thursday: 7/28: Museum,
choosing of subject for final project, notes on subject for
story. Class: Barnes.
IV Monday, 8/1: Workshop:
story. First chapter of Heffernan.
Tuesday, 8/2: Finish
workshop. Continue Heffernan.
Thursday, 8/4: Museum:
notes for essay. Finish discussion of Heffernan.
V Monday, 8/8: Workshop:
short academic essay. Cornell anthology: especially Moody,
Scott, Lauterbach, Caponegro, Waldrop, Davis, Yau
Tuesday, 8/9: Finish
workshop, continue discussion of Cornell.
Thursday, 8/11: Museum:
Cornell collection, notes for piece on Cornell. Class: final
discussion of Cornell anthology.
VI Monday, 8/15: Workshop:
Cornell piece. Handout from Guy Davenport’s Objects on a Table.
Tuesday, 8/16: Finish
workshop, discussion of handouts. Final project due.
Thursday, 8/18: Museum,
reading of final project
© 2014 Amy England,