For Thursday (9/7)

For Thursday, let’s read some new poems – –  semiotically!  Take one of the three poems assigned to you: Ai’s “Conversation,” Adrienne Rich’s “Diving into the Wreck,” or Margaret Atwood’s “Morning in the Burned House.” (If you can’t remember which is your poem, just choose one.)

Let’s repeat the approach we used with Whitman on Tuesday:

  • read the poem through once or twice – – not really to interpret it, but to become more familiar with it
  • divide a sheet of paper into two columns
  • start listing terms from the poem that seem significant
  • as you list, note any binary oppositions or paired terms that seem to relate to each other – – putting an opposing term in the column across from the first term
  • try the “most concrete” technique.  (Remember “perfume” in “Song of Myself”?)  Find the most concrete term in your list and use that to start mapping oppositions and to group or relate terms together

Remember: semiotics  – – a la Saussure – – is all about difference and the way that meaning is produced through difference, e.g. the “what” only signifies through the “not-what.” “Perfume” in “Song of Myself” only accrues its rich meaning through its differences from the “atmosphere” and, further, from the “wood” and being “undisguised,” etc.

Bring your semiotic worksheet and a copy of your poem to class on Thursday.