Kelly Writers House Fellows Seminar, spring 2005
Kelly Writers House Fellows seminar, 2005
taught by Al Filreis
at the Kelly Writers House
with Phil Sandick, Writers House Fellows Coordinator

listserv archive


Mon, Jan 10 - introductory session

Mon, Jan 17 (meet at 4616 Osage Ave.) - Angell, Once More around the Park; Steve Kettmann's interview with Angell; interview with Robert Birnbaum for (2003); Henry Santoro, "A fan's notes" (Boston Phoenix, April 2001); and:

audio clips from Ken Burns' Baseball (1994):
on Bob Gibson (MP3)
"Yo la Tengo" (on the early Mets) (MP3)
"The Capital of Baseball" (on New York in the 1950s) (MP3)
on Bobby Thompson's home run (MP3)
on Willie Mays (MP3)
on the Red Sox' victory in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series (MP3)
on Babe Ruth's final weekend (MP3)

Mon, Jan 24 - Angell, Game Time; review by Joel Cannaroe

Mon, Jan 31 - Angell, recent essays & memoirs (photocopies); "Late Review," in "Talk of the Town," New Yorker, Jan. 19, 2004; Terry Gross interviews Angell on his book about David Cone, Fresh Air, July 11, 2001; on the Yankees- Red Sox 2003 league championship series (at "Celebrating America's National Pastime" symposium, Harvard University, 2003); on Joe DiMaggio at the time of his death (NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Mar. 8, 1999) (MP3; link)

Mon, Feb 7 & Tues Feb 8 - Roger Angell visits

Mon, Feb 14 - Doctorow, Ragtime; John Leonard, "The Prophet" (photocopy)

Sun, Feb 20 - Doctorow, The Book of Daniel 2 PM, Arts Cafe, Writers House (note special day )

Mon, Feb 21 & Tues, Feb 22 - Lyn Hejinian visits

Mon, Feb 28; Tues, Mar 1 - Roger Angell visits

Mon, Mar 7 - no class (spring break)

Mon, Mar 14 - Doctorow, City of God

Sun, Mar 20, 2-5 PM at Writers House: Doctorow, Sweet Land Stories, Reporting the Universe, and Hofstra University speech (photocopy)

Mon, Mar 21 & Tues, Mar 22 - E. L. Doctorow visits

Mon, Mar 28 - Rich, biographical profile; and selections from the Norton (see below)

A bare selection of poems from 1951-1984: "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers," "An Unsaid Word," "Living in Sin," "Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law," "A Marriage in the Sixties," "Prospective Immigrants Please Note," "'I Am in Danger--Sir--'" "Orion," "Nightbreak," "Planetarium," "The Burning of Paper Instead of Children," "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning," "Trying to Talk with a Man," "Diving into the Wreck," "The Fact of a Doorframe," "From an Old House in America," "Yom Kippur 1984." A selection of prose: "Poetry and Experience," "When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision," "Vesuvius at Home," "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Experience," "Split at the Root: An Essay on Jewish Identity," "The Genesis of Yom Kippur 1984"
Mon, Apr 4 - Rich, all poems in The Fact of a Doorframe: Selected Poems 1950-2001 from page 135 to the end (from The Dream of a Common Language of 1978 to Fox of 2001)

Mon, Apr 11 - Rich, Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations (entire book except for "When We Dead Awaken")

Mon, Apr 18 & Tues, Apr 19 - Adrienne Rich visits

Mon, Apr 25 - final session (with dinner) (reading day)

papers and other requirements

POSITION PAPERS: You will write a response to the readings every week (well, you may skip just one). These are informal "position papers." They are to be between 400 and 500 words in length and must be sent to the Fellows listserv any time before 6 AM on the Monday morning of the week's class. Four of these papers will be evaluated closely--at least one each on Angell, Doctorow and Rich. Each week, bring a printed copy of your position paper to class. At the end of class you can decide if the paper you hold in your hands is one of the four you will turn in for evaluation.

LISTSERV RESPONSES: Each week you will be responding to one of the position papers sent to the listserv by your fellow Fellows seminarians. Send your response before noon. Your response should be sent to the listserv and should make a rejoinder to one point in one paper. These responses should be one short paragraph in length, about 100 words. Be sure, please, to make it clear which point in which person's position paper is the one to which your response is responding.

PROJECTS: A special project will be randomly assigned to you. These, too, should be sent to the listserv--any time before 6 AM on the date indicate on the projects list above. Length: whatever is appropriate for fulfilling the purpose of the project but no less than 750 words. These need not be fancy or high-toned, but, rather, straightforward and lucid and, if apt, organized into short titled sections to make for easy reading. If you are not assigned a project, see Al asap so that we can devise one.

OBLIGATIONS DURING FELLOWS' VISITS: As an absolutely vital part of the Fellows seminar, you will be called upon to volunteer during the two-day visits of the Fellows. Fulfilling this (mostly pleasurable) function is as much a requirement as the others listed here. If Phil Sandick has not asked you to take on a role during the visits, be sure to ask him what you can do to help.

FINAL EXAM: There will be a wildly comprehensive, personalized final exam. It will be sent to you by email, to be written at your convenience ("take home") any time during the exam period.


  1. Read Doctorow's Billy Bathgate. Summarize and generally analyze the novel for us, and point out areas of relevance to our readings and discussions of Doctorow. Due Feb 14. Alicia
  2. Read Doctorow's World's Fair. Summarize and generally analyze the novel for us, and point out areas of relevance to our readings and discussions of Doctorow. Be sure to point out parallels between Doctorow's and Angell's New York experience. Due Feb 14. Jill
  3. Read Doctorow's Loon Lake. Summarize and generally analyze the novel for us, and point out areas of relevance to our readings and discussions of Doctorow. Due Feb 20. Yona
  4. Read Doctorow's Welcome to Hard Times. Summarize and generally analyze the novel for us, and point out areas of relevance to our readings and discussions of Doctorow. Due Feb 14. Jessy
  5. Read Doctorow's Lives of the Poets. Summarize and generally analyze the novel for us, and point out areas of relevance to our readings and discussions of Doctorow. Due Feb 20. Kate
  6. Doctorow has taught at NYU for many years. Find out (somehow) what he teaches, what his affiliation is (what department and/or in what degree program does he participate as faculty?) and what sort of impact he has had on the program and the students. Due Feb 28. Jon Levin
  7. Read not one but two books about the Rosenbergs and their trial. Give us enough historical and political background so that even those among us who don't know about the cold war, American communists, the social connection between American Jews and radicalism, etc., will better under Book of Daniel. Be sure to tell us what you now know about the Rosenberg's sons. Due Feb 20. John
  8. Using whatever sources you can muster, chart a history of literary and intellectual responses to the Rosenbergs. Due Feb 20. Rachel
  9. Read Angell's The Stone Arbor & Other Stories and tell us all about it. Does the writing here in any way anticipate the masterful prose of the baseball essays and recent memoirs? Due Jan 31. Jessica L.
  10. Read Angell's book of satires, A Day in the Life of Roger Angell and tell us all about it. Does the writing here in any way anticipate or help explain the masterful prose of the baseball essays and recent memoirs? Due Jan 31. Jamie-Lee
  11. Read E. B. White's Here Is New York with Roger Angell's introduction. Describe the book. Tell us about the relationship between Angell and his step-father (from what you can discern in this book and elsewhere from Angell's comments in his own writing and in interviews). Be sure to say what it is about New York that attracts (and repells) both writers. Due Jan 31. Kerry G.
  12. Read Angell's A Pitcher's Story: Innings with David Cone and tell us about it. Be sure to comment on Angell's management of the long form (none of his other published work is book-length--all essays or stories). Due Jan 24. Ben
  13. View all nine "volumes" of Ken Burns' documentary, Baseball. What are its main themes, obsessions, forms? Tell us about it in a way that specifically helps us understand what it means to say that Roger Angell is writing about American culture and not just about baseball. Due Jan 31. Lindsey
  14. Study Adrienne Rich's early writings (from the early and mid-1950s), her own comments on it, and others' critical responses to it. Why was her writing so formally (and to some extent, thematically) conservative then? What accounts for the great change between her writing then and later? When did the big change occur? Why? How does she account for it? How do critics account for it? Due Mar 28. Nicole
  15. Research and report on Adrienne Rich's general and specific connections to feminist politics, to projects and activities and events of and in the feminist movement. Due Mar 28. Meredith
  16. Does the contemporary poetry avant-garde accept and embrace Adrienne Rich as part of their aesthetic, part of their movement, important formally and/or aesthetically and/or poetically to them? Interview (by email or in person) contemporary poets, as many as possible: among them might be Charles Bernstein, Jessica Lowenthal, Jena Osman, Bob Perelman, Kathy Lou Schultz, Ron Silliman. As part of this report, investigate some of Rich's actions regarding the idea of "American" Poetry, specifically her refusal of the National Medal for the Arts and her controversial selections for Best American Poetry a few years back. Due April 4. Elissa
  17. Compare Rich's reading (interpretion of; version of; rendering of) Emily Dickinson with the reading Dickinson is given by others. I leave it to you to decide which other contemporary readings of Dickinson to use for this study, but among them must be: Susan Howe (My Emily Dickinson), Susan Gubar and Sandra Gilbert. Help us understand Rich's own Dickinson by putting her "take" on Dickinson in context of others'. Due Mar 28. Janine
  18. Do the absolute best that you can to tell us about Roger Angell's work and importance and influence as fiction editor of the New Yorker. This will not be easy, so take on this project only if you are (a) ready to do some real digging on your own, and/or if (b) you are especially interested in the contemporary fiction scene. Due Jan 31. Caroline
  19. Doctorow has taken many strong political positions over the years. Research this and tell us about them - and, where possible, report on the reaction he has caused. (He wrote the foreword to Executing Justice, a book about the Mumia case. Be sure to find this piece, among others.) Due Feb 28. Ariel
  20. When Adrienne Rich was active in teaching at Stanford University, what courses did she teach? What was her presence or impact there? Was she involved in special projects? What did her students think of her? What did her colleagues think of her? Due April 11. Ashley
  21. Make an oral history of the Writers House Fellows program, from the beginning until now. For several people. (See Al and Phil for details.) Due April 25. Richard & Kerry C.


1/17	Meredith, Richard
1/24	Ashley, Ariel
1/31	Alicia, Kerry G.
2/7	Jamie-Lee, Janine (Roger Angell visit)
2/14	Lindsey
2/20	Rachel
2/21	John Carroll, Elissa (Lyn Hejinian visit)
2/28	Ben
3/14	Yona, Nargus
3/21	Jill, Caroline (Doctorow visit)
3/28	Jessica L., Phil
4/4	Kerry C.
4/11	Jon Levin, Nicole
4/18	Kate, Jessy

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