Homework Prompt: Oulipian Subway Game

This homework prompt encourages students to enter into a new experience of time. It brings them into contact with an abandoned subway station and asks them to play an Oulipian writing game. Reading assignments provide brief theoretical explications of time that will serve as the basis for much of the course, and the writing assignment instructs students to measure out their words in the timed language of iambic pentameter.



Part 1: With a partner, visit the abandoned City Hall subway 
station. (Take the 6 Local Train downtown to Brooklyn Bridge. 
At Brooklyn Bridge, the last stop on the train, the conductor will 
announce that you must exit the train. Ignore this command. 
The train will continue downtown and pass the abandoned station, 
which you can see from the window. The train will make a u-turn 
and continue uptown.

Part 2: Play the Oulipian subway game, invented by the Oulipian 
poetry movement. With your partner, take turns asking one another 
yes or no questions. If you or your partner answer "no" immediately 
before a subway stop, stay on board. If you or your partner answer 
"yes" immediately before a subway stop, exit the train and 
explore the neighborhood.

Readings: Four brief excerpts:
1. Augustine, Confessions
2. Maimonides, Guide 
3. Spengler, The Decline of the West
4. Adams, "Kairopolitics: The Politics of Realtime"
Writing Assignment: How did you experience time while riding the 
subway versus when reading? Write your paper entirely in lines of 
iambic pentameter (1 pg).