Student-Originated Studies: Critical and Poetic Theory and Practice


Spring 2014 quarter

Taught by

This one-quarter critical and creative reading and writing program is designed for advanced students embarked on the composition of long-range and wide-ranging writing projects oriented toward or against or beyond the emergent occasions that surround us. Intensive independent writing and reading will be complemented by weekly seminars, small-group workshops, and weekly and semi-weekly lectures ( via the Critical and Cultural Lecture Series and the Art Lecture series); occasional screenings and a local field-trip are possible as well.

“Language is fossil poetry,” Emerson declares. And indeed the radical sense of each term in this program’s subtitle offers substantial orientation for the various directions we might take: crisis in the sense of “decision” or “choice”; poiesis in the sense of “making” (not only in what is called “poetry,” but also in other kinds of composition, whether in prose or verse, for the page or the stage or the screen); theoria in the sense of “making visible”; praxis in the sense of “action” or “doing.” All of which is to say that in addition to Emerson’s etymological enthusiasms we will be mindful withal of Wittgenstein’s no less fruitful suggestion that “the meaning of a word is its use.”

An expanded engagement with the question Montaigne had emblazoned on the rafters of his study — Que sçay-je? — will guide us in our individual and collective inquiry: What do I know? And what do I do? How do I know and how do I do? How do we do? How do we know? How can we do things with words to find out? How might our writing become an instrument for conducting rigorous ethical and epistemological investigations designed to reconnect us, by means of our study (however elaborate or playful or recondite), back to the world we live in right now?

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

aesthetics, communications, education, literature, philosophy and writing.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.


Date Revision
March 12th, 2014 New opportunity added.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Signature Required

Priority will be given to students who can demonstrate their readiness for intensive independent and coordinated inquiry. If you are interested in taking this program, please send a brief letter of introduction to  Eirik Steinhoff  that describes your project — what do you want to investigate, how do you plan to conduct your study, and what do you plan to compose? — along with any other pertinent information (such as a brief bibliography, a description of coursework or other experience that prepares you to participate in this program). No more than 2 paragraphs sent in the body of the e-mail — i.e., no attachments.  Priority will be given to students who contact the faculty by Friday 14 March 2014.

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16 credits): 30475
So - Sr (1-16 credits): 30592

Go to to register for this program.

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