Office: SF 122
Phone: 2903-1111, x 3713
|Classroom: AV 204
Th 3:40 - 5:30
said, "If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can
ever warm me, I know that it is poetry. If I feel physically as if
the top of my head were taken off, I know that it is poetry." During
this term we too will read poems and—hopefully—keep our heads on; we'll
struggle, like Dickinson, to determine what poetry is and why it can give
us a chill (even in these hot, late summer days.) To do this, you
will read, analyze, and discuss poems by a variety of American poets.
This semester we will be sampling some of the types of poetry that have
been written in the United States during the past ninety-eight years, with
an emphasis on short lyric poems. We will, though, keep returning
to the title of this course and continuously ask questions: what is "modern"
about this poetry; in what ways is it "contemporary" or "postmodern"; how
does it differ from earlier types of poetry; in what ways is it an expression
of life in the twentieth century; what is (North) American about this poetry;
how does its sensibility differ from British, Australian, or other national
poetries written in English; what specific facets of American life and
culture inform this poetry; in what ways can this frequently untraditional
writing be called "poetry"; and are prose poems or free verse writings
really poetry? Should these texts that often foreground their own
flagrant unpoetic qualities be read as poetry? While we as a class
read and discuss these poems, each of you as individuals will hopefully
arrive at your own answers for these questions.
The primary objectives of this lecture and discussion course are (1) to enhance your appreciation and understanding of the range of American poetries written since the turn of the century and (2) to provide you with a broad critical framework for reading poetry. This survey course will examine various types of poetry—from the surrealist poetry and imagism of the first decades of this century right up to the nineties, including such contemporary types of poetry as Beat poetry, New York School poetry, Deep Image poetry, Objectivist poetry, and Confessional poetry. We will also touch upon examples of African-American poetry and Asian-American poetry.
Our class will be web-assisted so that we can go beyond the walls and boundaries of the traditional classroom. By using the web, you will have access to many helpful sites about poetry on the World Wide Web; you will be able to discuss freely with your classmates and me the poems that we will read for class; and you will receive specific and helpful instructions and materials that relate to those poems.
Hopefully, you will make this course YOUR course, and it will become discussion based, rather than a series of lectures by a more-than-bald professor. As you either know already or will soon discover, this class will be your class: it will be run as democratically as possible, with you and your classmates making many pedagogical decisions. I see my role in this course as that of an informed facilitator: I will offer a general format for the course but will allow you liberties in choosing the directions we will go. I cannot stress fervently enough the importance of active discussion and participation for this class. You must commit yourself from the onset to actively discussing the various poetic texts that we will be reading. Your reactions—both emotional and cognitive, both immediate and those that follow your close reading and reflection—will be the basis for our classroom discussions. You must share your unique approaches, understandings, and questions about the poems we will be reading. Poems are open to many possible interpretations, so the more viewpoints you and your classmates hear and express, the more options we as a class can explore. Therefore, your constant and active participation is required throughout the course. The success of this class will ultimately depend upon you.
As you may already have guessed, because you are both a teacher and a student in this class, your attendance is required for all class sessions. Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each period; if you are not present at that time but come late, it is your responsibility to make sure you receive partial credit for your attendance. Students who are often late for class or miss three or more classes will have their final course grade significantly lowered.
Throughout the semester I will expect all of you to read the texts assigned for each class period (and you are, of course, more than welcome to help choose what particular texts we will read) and come prepared to discuss them. I will also expect you, together with two of your classmates, to lead the discussion of a particular poem or poet during one class session. You will complete a midterm exam and write a final paper.
For each class session you will be reading more poems than we are able to discuss in detail. I do this to expose you to a greater number of texts than we can comfortably discuss during class time, as well as to give you the opportunity to develop your own critical abilities and interpret some poems on your own. Instead of a final examination, you will be writing a four page paper (double-spaced with one inch margins) that will be an explication of a poem we have read in class but not discussed in detail. As the term progresses, I will provide you with more specific details about the paper and possible topics.
I believe students should be encouraged to write well in all of their English classes. Papers must exhibit good ideas and good writing.
|Rather than being confined to the perspective offered by a single text, this course will not have a textbook. Instead, I will provide handouts about the poets and poetries that we will read. Expect to pay photocopying expenses. I will also sporadically provide supplementary poetic texts and key prose statements about the poetics we will study.|
|One of your short writing assignments entails keeping a reading journal, which I will pick up regularly during the term. You will be writing weekly entries—two single-spaced pages per week (handwritten, if legible)—in which you respond to a poem assigned for that class session. The entries are an opportunity for you to begin interpreting a poem, as well as to raise (and start answering) questions you may have about the text. In the first two entries you may do a variety of activities: 1.) paraphrase the poem or summarize lines that most strike you 2.) describe how the poem or particular lines make you feel and determine which elements in the poem cause your reaction 3.) recount some associations or experiences from your life that are similar to the poem's subject or the narrator's experience 4.) relate problems you are having understanding a particular poem. In later journal entries I will expect you to closely analyze or explicate poems. Again, we will talk more specifically in the near future about the journal entries. Please note that all reading journals must be handed in at the beginning of the class period on the day they are due. Late journals will not be accepted.|
|Quizzes, short assignments, presentations, and participation 33.3%
Midterm exam 33.3%
Final paper 33.3%
|I would like to remind you of the importance of doing your own work throughout the semester. Presenting other people’s writing and ideas as though they are your own is a serious error. Intentional and unintentional plagiarism are not acceptable and will jeopardize specific paper or journal grades, as well as the final grade for the course.|
|Sept. 24 Introductions: "The
Modernist Revolution: Make it New!"
Oct. 1 Robert Frost
8 Imagist poems: Ezra Pound, H. D., Charles Reznikoff, and Carl Sandburg
15 T. S. Eliot
22 Wallace Stevens
29 William Carlos Williams
Nov. 5 Hart Crane
12 No Class: Sun Yat-sen’s birthday
19 Midterm Exam
26 Langston Hughes
Dec. 3 Elizabeth Bishop
10 Lorine Niedecker / Robert Lowell
17 Sylvia Plath
24 Allen Ginsberg
31 Frank O'Hara
Jan. 7 James Wright
14 Li-Young Lee
21 Final Paper due