Today is the first day of my Semina Seminar – a pedagogical experiment created after the model of Wallace Berman’s Semina (Latin for ‘seeds’), a hand-printed assemblage-zine that Berman made between 1955 and 1964. As Berman’s friend and collaborator, poet Michal McClure wrote about Semina, it is as much a form or genre than a single, one-off thing. There are ‘seminas’ whereby friends:
are drawn into the assemblage of the magazine, but then the magazine is also sent to acquaintances who are drawn into the circle of friends, so it expands and becomes a larger event
The idea is that within the structure of a University class, with a specified topic and material (for this seminar it is Ancient Philosophical Handbooks: Lessons, Lives, Guides), students are asked to bring their own interests and expertise to the material (expanding the course in several directions, as would happen in a traditional seminar paper), then they would disseminate them within the classroom context and, finally, work together to produce some form of output for this collective endeavor grounded in individual and shared interests (e.g. a magazine, pamphlet, statement, anthology). My hope is that the ‘seeds’ of this seminar will sprout in interesting places, both within and beyond the academy.
To celebrate this exciting project, here is a blurry still from the 1969 film Easy Rider, in which Wallace Berman played a cameo as, you guessed it, a sower in a commune!