One of the great twentieth-century experimental writers, Gertrude Stein wrote in a richly transnational and translational context, starting with her landmark collection, Three Lives, and continuing into the present with translations of her work into many languages. She was also famously engaged, as a writer, with the visual arts - and as a result can productively be regarded as a pioneering multimedia artist. The present seminar is organized in three parts. Following an introductory survey of Stein's writing, we go on to examine several midcareer compositions in the context of media theory. These include her 1927 opera, Four Saints in Three Acts; the novel Lucy Church Amiably (composed the same year), which adapts portrait and landscape innovations of the Post-impressionist painter Paul Cézanne; and Before the Flowers of Friendship Faded Friendship Faded, an important adaptation a couple of years later of a contemporaneous French poetic sequence. The final section ("Other Media, Other Languages") explores variations on Stein's aesthetic by the late-twentieth/early-twenty-first-century experimental film maker Stan Brakhage and experimental theater director and composer Heiner Goebbels. Then, after analyzing several translations by the French polymath, Jacques Roubaud, we will workshop translations selected and presented by the students. Fluency in a language besides English is recommended but not required.
Course Attributes: BU Hum