You are about to listen to “Laughter Worth Reading.” It’s the inaugural episode in the Brittain Fellows’ first regular podcast, Flash Readings, created and produced by Lauren Neefe. Every month the podcast will feature one of the fellows performing a close reading of an exemplary textual moment from their current research. Organized into five brief segments—the Subject, the Object, the Logic, the Project, Where to Check It Out—each episode will document a conversation between two Fellows, paring it down to a succinct, cogent display of the scholarship undergirding the experimental pedagogy the Brittain Fellows are known for.
“Laughter Worth Reading” features Eric Rettberg, who specializes in conceptual poetry and poetics and the digital humanities, homing in on the laughter of Williams Carlos Williams at his own silly jokes. More precisely, Rettberg interprets the variations—or variants, as editors and textual scholars call them—of William Carlos Williams’s laughter in two public readings of the iconic lyric “This Is Just to Say”: a reading at the Southern California home of Eyvind Earle in 1950 and a reading at Harvard in 1951, both freely available on the formidable PennSound archive. “The reason the audience is interesting to me,” Rettberg states, “is because we usually think of poetry readings as these sacred spaces.” Spaces, perhaps, that accommodate profaning more readily than we are wont to believe. You can read more about the project in which this reading figures in Rettberg’s recent article for Jacket 2, “Hearing the Audience.”
In the second Flash Reading, Caitlin Kelly reads Pamela’s adaptations of Psalm 137 in Samuel Richardson’s epistolary novel. Former Brittain Fellow Jon Kotchian (2012-2015) will voice the text.
Flash Readings Episode 1: “Laughter Worth Reading”
The podcast can be played using the embedded player above or downloaded as an mp3 file.
Bernstein, Charles. Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.
Rettberg, Eric. “Hearing the Audience.” Clipping. Jacket2 (2015): n. pag. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.
Williams, William Carlos. “This Is Just To Say.” Home of Eyvind Earle, Van Nuys, California, 1950. PennSound. Web. 28 Sept. 2015. MP3.
Williams, William Carlos. “This Is Just To Say.” Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, December 4, 1951. PennSound. Web. 20 Oct. 2015. MP3.