Project 4 assignment

Project 4 assignment

draft due Sunday, November 25 at 5:00pm
final version due Friday, November 30 at 5:00pm

This project is not an essay, but an exercise. You won’t have an argument or a thesis. Rather you will first explain your scholar’s method (or maybe disposition, lens, way-of-knowing, position, attitude), then use that same method or disposition (etc.) to read one of Celan’s poems. (Though not “Death Fugue” and not any of the early poems before Poppy and Memory). So the assignment, in a nutshell, is this: explain your scholar’s method, then use it to read a poem for us.

This project is similar in some ways to project 3. You use one text to help you read another. But in this case, the secondary text is already particularly interested in some aspects of the primary text. We all are reading Celan’s poems with great attentiveness and care. Each of the secondary authors is saying something about how to read the poems. Your task is to understand your scholar’s “how” and to emulate your scholar’s way of reading, of getting to the poem, of having the poem become open and available. Not the scholar’s style—goodness no—but the scholar’s way of approaching the poem, your scholar’s drive toward making meaning in the encounter with the poem.

Celan says in the “Meridian” speech:

The poem wants to reach an Other, it needs this Other, it needs an Over-against. It seeks it out, speaks toward it.

For the poem making toward an Other, each thing, each human being is a form of this Other. (409)

So perhaps in this project you become the Other for the poem and your scholar is helping you understand your role as a potential receiver of the meanings that you will explore and explain. And there Celan also speaks of attentiveness, being awake and in tune and open to the poem speaking to you. Use your scholar’s work of attentiveness to the poem as a model for how you too can be attentive, to let the poem reach you.

You should explain how your scholar reads Celan in a page or two. And your reading of a poem will also take a page or two. No more than four pages of text (not including your cover page and bibliography page).

Use our regular format for projects: title and cover page, Chicago notes and bibliography style (zero errors, please), bibliography page, which will have only two items. (Those of you reading Gadamer, please don’t reproduce my typo in the title on page 69 in our reader.) Make sure the font of your notes and page numbers is the same as the body font.

Since everyone in each group is reading the same scholar, your explanations of how your scholar reads will naturally be similar. We would like you to confer with two of your discussion group members about the scholarly paper and how your scholar reads Celan. You will no doubt discover more about your scholar’s disposition toward the poem by comparing your thoughts and readings. Do that face to face, or on email, or in a side conversation alongside the group chat, or via text, over the next week, ideally by Wednesday at the latest . . . However you decide to connect doesn’t matter. But you have to talk with two people in your group about your scholar’s method of reading. Acknowledge your partners in footnotes where their contributions to your understanding of your scholar are relevant.

Enjoy. This should be a difficult, but fun.


Tamura’s Humsters read Felstiner
Robb’s Humsters read Gadamer
Ingram’s Humsters read Olschner
Denham’s Humesters read Derrida

For one-on-one writing tutor sessions during the week of November 26, you will book sessions only with your section’s Fellows, since they, like you, will be the experts on your scholar. (If you book a second session, that can be with a Fellow not in your section.)