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ENGLISH 5DA: WISE: Poetic Intelligences

In a recent column on A.I. chatbots, Ezra Klein writes that their "'thinking,' for lack of a better word, is utterly inhuman, but we have trained it to present as deeply human" (The New York Times, March 12, 2023). Implicit in Klein's argument is the assumption that we do understand human thinking, or at least how to recognize it, and that A.I. confronts us with something radically different masquerading as the familiar. But perhaps the world has long been populated by different kinds of thinkers. That appears to be the claim of a number of critics working on poetry, who posit that poems are their own kinds of thinking machines, with the ability to represent a speaker's thinking, to facilitate a reader's thinking, to formulate the structure of thinking, or even to think for themselves. In this course, we'll examine such claims by close reading poems from a range of writers while also engaging works of criticism that grapple with these questions from formalist, phenomenological, and phi more »
In a recent column on A.I. chatbots, Ezra Klein writes that their "'thinking,' for lack of a better word, is utterly inhuman, but we have trained it to present as deeply human" (The New York Times, March 12, 2023). Implicit in Klein's argument is the assumption that we do understand human thinking, or at least how to recognize it, and that A.I. confronts us with something radically different masquerading as the familiar. But perhaps the world has long been populated by different kinds of thinkers. That appears to be the claim of a number of critics working on poetry, who posit that poems are their own kinds of thinking machines, with the ability to represent a speaker's thinking, to facilitate a reader's thinking, to formulate the structure of thinking, or even to think for themselves. In this course, we'll examine such claims by close reading poems from a range of writers while also engaging works of criticism that grapple with these questions from formalist, phenomenological, and philosophical perspectives. We'll ask what it might mean to say that poems think and whether they can help us think about thinking in general, including in the context of recent developments in A.I. technology. We'll also consider our own role as thinkers and writers in a world in which the practices of thinking and writing are changing faster than ever before. (Note: This Writing-Intensive Seminar in English (WISE) course fulfills WIM for English majors. Non-majors are welcome, space permitting. For enrollment permission contact judithr@stanford.edu.)
Terms: Win | Units: 5
Instructors: Atkins, J. (PI)
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