MSL Winter School 2022

Four 10-hour courses taught online June-July

The Melbourne School of Literature is currently in formation. There have been several literature courses taught via MSCP over the years and the MSL is a way to honour the desire to study literature in and of itself.

All courses are 10 hours in length. All courses will be taught via Zoom. As always significant discounts apply for those enrolling in multiple courses.

When: 20 June - 21 July

Where: ONLINE.  All courses will be taught via Zoom.  Video recordings will also be available within a few days after each seminar for those who can't make the schedule.  Readings are made available online before the school begins.  Links to the Zoom classroom are sent out with the registration email.  All payment must be made via credit card during enrolment.  Also it's worth noting that Melbourne (AEST) is 10 hours ahead of UTC (5pm here is 7am in Berlin and 10pm in LA).

Fees (AUD):

Courses Waged Unwaged
1 $120 $80
2 $180 $120
3 $210 $140
4+ $240 $160


MSL Winter Program

2 hours per week for 5 weeks

Mon 5:00-7:00pm
Starts 20 Jun
The Poetics of Rebellion in Australasia
Lecturer: Elese Dowden
Tue 5:00-7:00pm
Starts 21 Jun
Nietzsche’s Children: The Nietzschean Impulse & the 20th Century Avant-Garde
Lecturer: Thomas Moran
Wed 5:00-7:00pm
Starts 22 Jun
Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus: the sound of modernity
Lecturer: Eva Birch
Thu 5:00-7:00pm
Starts 23 Jun
Genealogy of postcritique: the critic, the university, and the crisis of crisis
Lecturer: Michael Graham


Course Descriptions

The Poetics of Rebellion in Australasia

Lecturer: Elese Dowden

Starts: Mon 5:00-7:00pm 20 Jun

Full Schedule: Jun 20, 27, Jul 4, 11, 18

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

Albert Camus writes that ‘if art insists on being a luxury, it will also be a lie.’ But in this neo-colonial Australasian context of tennis matches, poetry scams and Angry Penguins, the question of authenticity is not quite as clear-cut. In this multi-modal lecture series, we will think deeply and collaboratively about our roles as artists and consumers, to conceptualise an Australasian poetics from the beginnings of coloniality to the late capitalocene.

Lecture 1: The Art of History

We will commence this series by drawing a collaborative history of art and poetics in Australasia, broadly construed, from the colonial period to the present day. The introductory class will be run as an interactive lecture, and each student is encouraged (though not required) to bring a poem, short recording or art image from the Australasian context (1900 – 2022) to build a collective content landscape of works from which we will draw throughout the course.

Lecture 2: The Art of the Deal

The second week brings us forward to 20th Century Australian art, particularly in Melbourne, via Pi O’s epic poetic work Heide. First, we will look at the Ern Malley scandal in historical context and the role of early Australian literary journals like Angry Penguins to establish a sense of early Australian modernist poetics. This will give way to class discussion on representations of Australasian identity in art, contrasting works by Sidney Nolan, Joy Hester, Mia Boe and Vincent Namatjira. In the second hour, Pi O will read us some poems, then should stick around for some broader class discussion on Australian art history.

Lecture 3: The Art of Inheritance

This third lecture will focus on the inheritances of contemporary Australasian poetry, beginning with a reading by Lucy Van, followed by a Q&A on identity, art, fascism and coloniality in the present context. In the second hour, we will continue these conversations through reading and discussing works by Ellen van Neerven, Bella Li, Rebecca Hawkes, Ursula Robinson-Shaw and Tayi Tibble to explore the themes of pastoralism, imperialism and urban identity in Australasia.

  • Hawkes, Rebecca. "Hardcore Pastorals: Vii.". Cordite 2022, no. 27/05 (2021).
  • Van, Lucy. The Open. Cordite Books. Edited by Merlinda Bobis. Maryborough, Victoria: McPherson's Printing, 2021.
  • van Neerven, Ellen. "Treaty of Shared Power between Throat's Reader and Author." In Throat, edited by Ellen van Neerven, 60-1. Queensland: University of Queensland Press, 2020.

Lecture 4: The Art of the Narrative

In this fourth week we continue thinking about representations of subjectivity in Australasian poetics. We will begin by considering the ways political narratives have informed notions of identity in Australia via early 20th Century tourism videos, Invasion Day political marketing, and the gormless subjecthood of the blameless Aussie battler. For the second hour we will be joined by Ursula Robinson-Shaw to delve into the complexities of contemporary Australian fiction. This discussion will further examine subjecthood, universalism and identity posturing in Australian literature.

Lecture 5: The Art of the Myth

In this final class, we will be joined by Caitlyn Lesiuk for a short guest lecture on art and poetry in Alain Badiou, in connection to mythology, political action and the construction of reality, particularly in the Australasian context. We will then think through this means of constructing reality with Caitlyn and Justin Clemens, with whom we will speak on the great Australian art of political mythology. The final hour of this session will involve a full class discussion on one topic from each week of the course to conclude the general course content.

Nietzsche’s Children: The Nietzschean Impulse & the 20th Century Avant-Garde

Lecturer: Thomas Moran

Starts: Tue 5:00-7:00pm 21 Jun

Full Schedule: Jun 21, 28, Jul 5, 12, 19

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

In Also sprach Zarathustra (1883-1892) Nietzsche wrote about the children he sought to inspire:  

…and driven I am — out of fatherlands and motherlands. So now I love my Kinderland alone, undiscovered in furthest seas: I hoist my sail in search thereof. To my children will I atone for being my father's child: and to all the future — for this present.

In the following course we propose to outline a family tree which traces Nietzsche’s influence on the modernist literary avant-garde of the first half of the 20th century. This genealogy will be informed by Pierre Hadot’s notion of philosophy as a way of life, interpreting the creative practice of the authors under review as a form of spiritual-philosophical activity. In doing so we seek to understand these poets as aesthetic adventurers, who, through their poetic practice, translated the Nietzschean impulse into the creative act.

The course will bring together a close-reading of Nietzsche’s key writings on art and creativity with an analysis of the poetry of key modernist figures, all of whom can be understood as descendants of the Nietzschean line. In doing so we seek to overcome the narrow understanding of literature as entirely separate from philosophical activity.  

This course will not be an exercise in the exegesis of the work of these poets or a form of art criticism. It is the explication of the capacity for philosophy to inspire and sustain a practising writerly life. The course will focus on the poetry of D.H. Lawrence; Mina Loy; T.S. Eliot; Ezra Pound; and HD (Hilda Doolittle).

The course will develop through a close-reading of key poems by these magnificent writers alongside a reading of theoretical texts which they composed. Such a practice of close-reading will be carried over to Nietzsche’s own writings on art and modernity.

We seek to re-ignite Nietzschean philosophy through the work of his unruly children. This course will develop a number of Nietzschean concerns which include; the agon between the Dionysian and the Apollonian; the magical origin of poetry; the will to symbolise; the eternal return of the mythopoetic power of the ancient world; and art as the overcoming of modern nihilism.

We will engage in a close-reading of the poetic works as a group. In this way no prior knowledge of these poets is required. What will be necessary is an open mind and a willingness to be transfigured by their eternally enlivening poetic projects.

Week 1: Our New Nature: D.H. Lawrence  

  • Selections from The Collected Poems of D.H. Lawrence, “Poetry of the Present” and “The Great God Pan”.

Week 2: Machine Age Amor Fati: Mina Loy

  • Selections from The Lost Lunar Baedeker, “Aphorism on Futurism”, “Feminist Manifesto” and “Modern Poetry.

Week 3: Ancestry and Eternity: T.S. Eliot

  • Selections from Collected Poems 1909-1962, “Tradition and the Individual Talent” and

Week 4: Poetry as Prophesy: HD

  • Selections from Selected Poems and “The Cinema and the Classics – I) Beauty II) Restraint III) The Mask and the Movietone.”

Week 5: The Life-Work: Ezra Pound

  • Pound - Selections from The Cantos, “A Retrospect” and “How to Read”.

Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus: the sound of modernity

Lecturer: Eva Birch

Starts: Wed 5:00-7:00pm 22 Jun

Full Schedule: Jun 22, 29, Jul 6, 13, 20

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote Sonnets to Orpheus, a book of 55 sonnets, in just three weeks following his completion of The Duino Elegies in 1922. In Sonnets to Orpheus, Rilke turns to Orpheus, the god of music, to work out how to be a poet – and how to live – in modernity. According to the myth, Orpheus’ music is so powerful it allows him to enter the realm of death, overcome his own death, and cross the boundary between nature and culture. Rilke uses Orpheus’ godly music to explore the “invisible” – what is disavowed in the scientific era following the death of God.

In this course we will consider in the Sonnets to Orpheus in terms of technological and social developments of the early 20th Century as they relate to sound and voice. We will read Rilke’s essay “Primal Sound,” which explores the invention of the phonograph, as well as psychoanalytic writings by Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan. At the same time that early recording technologies were capturing the human voice, the psychoanalytic technique of free association – discovered by Freud and his hysterics – freed it. Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus will be read as a celebration of poetry within this particular historical context.

The first hour of each seminar will be dedicated to a lecture, and the second hour to a close reading of the Sonnets. We will use the material in the lecture as well as secondary readings – and your own research if you wish – to analyse the sonnets. In the final week there will be a lecture followed by a discussion of texts everyone can bring along to discuss.

Week One

  • Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus - Part 1, Sonnets 1 – 13

Week Two

  • Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus - Part 1, Sonnets 14 – 26

Week Three

  • Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus - Part 2, Sonnets 1 – 15

Week Four

  • Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus - Part 2, Sonnets 16 – 29

Week Five

Please bring your own poetry or music works for discussion.

Secondary Readings

  • Rainer Maria Rilke, “Primal Sound”
  • Ovid, excerpts from Metamorphoses
  • Sigmund Freud, “On transience”
  • Jacques Lacan, excerpts from The Ethics of Psychoanalysis

Genealogy of postcritique: the critic, the university, and the crisis of crisis

Lecturer: Michael Graham

Starts: Thu 5:00-7:00pm 23 Jun

Full Schedule: Jun 23, 30, Jul 7, 14, 21

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

Postcritique’s proponents see in it an escape from the circular logics of critique and the ‘hermeneutics of suspicion,’ claiming the positive articulation of new values that, they say, revive questions about literature, interpretation, affect, and aesthetics. Its detractors see postcritique as a discourse that encourages lazy interpretations, languishing between unstable metaphysics on the one hand and an untenable synthesis of empiricism and phenomenology on the other.

This course asks: what are the properties of postcritique, what is its object and what are its conditions of possibility? Starting with Sedgwick’s famous introduction to Novel Gazing (1997), these questions will take us through metaphysics as varied as Marxian materialism, Derridean poststructuralism, actor-network theory, whatever it is that Wittgenstein does, and the idealist aesthetics of Kant and of Hegel. It will ultimately connect the discourses of critique and postcritique to the two commodities at the center of all universities, education and research, leading us to the revelation that postcritique is not symptomatic of crisis in the Humanities, but a crisis of crisis as such.

Week 1: Critique, postcritique, and Literary Studies

  • Rita Felski and Elizabeth Anker, Critique and Postcritique (2017), “Introduction”
  • Paul Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy (1970), “Problematic: The Placing of Freud”
  • Anahid Nersessian, “For Love of Beauty?”
  • John Guillory, Cultural Capital (1993), “Canonical and Noncanonical: The Current Debate”

Week 2: Eve Sedgwick, suspicion! and Cultural Studies

  • Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading (1997)
  • Bill Readings, The University in Ruins (1997), Intro, Chapter 7

Week 3: Rita Felski and Derek Attrdige: sociology versus singularity, ontology and experience

  • Rita Felski, “Context Stinks!” (2011)
  • Rita Felski, Uses of Literature (2008
  • Derek Attridge, The Singularity of Literature (2004), “Introductory”

Week 4: Charles Altieri: the politics of idealist aesthetics; valuation and evaluation

  • Charles Altieri, Reckoning With the Imagination (2015), Introduction
  • Sarah de Rijcke and Bart Penders, “Resist calls for replicability in the humanities,” Nature (2018) 
  • Chad Wellmon and Andrew Piper, “Publication, Power, and Patronage: On Inequality and Academic Publishing,” Critical Inquiry Blog, 21 July 2017 (updated 2 October 2017)

Week 5: Crisis, ‘The University’

  • Paul Reitter and Chad Wellmon, Permanent Crisis (2021), Introduction
  • Simon During, “Stop Defending the Humanities,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2019
  • Moten and Harney, The Undercommons (2013), “The University and the Undercommons”


15 Aug - 10 Nov Evening School Sem2 2022

18 Aug - 10 Nov MSL Evening School

19 Aug - 11 Nov Camus and Enemies

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