Freshman Seminar 60t. Harvard Poets

Instructor: Elisa New
Terms: Fall Term

Mondays, 2-4 pm | Location: Morton Prince 21

Open to freshman students only.

The first 1/3 of course will include close readings, video tours and on-foot excursions around 17th and 18th 19th century Harvard Square as we read Ann Bradstreet, Edward Taylor,  Michael Wigglesworth,  Phillis Wheatley, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, Maria White Lowell and Ralph Waldo Emerson . In this part of the course we will practice a range of approaches to reading poems, considering a poem’s form alongside its cultural function, surveying the diverse and changing media and formats in which poems circulate–manuscript, performance, print, aural recording, performance;  individual volume,  general circulation magazine or newspaper,  literary quarterly,  schoolbook, gift book, psalter and more.  Excursions may include visits to First Parish or Memorial Church, to Mt Auburn Cemetery and the Washington’s Headquarters and the Longfellow House. In the second 2/3 of the course we will focus on 20th century Harvard and its writers , with particular attention to 4 Harvard inflected moments in American literary history—the emergence of Modernism (  with attention to Robinson, Du Bois, Frost,  Reed,  Stevens, Cullen); the rise of the  New Criticism in the 1950’s  (its standard bearers Eliot and Lowell ); the critique of New Criticism and rise of counter movements, New York School, Black Mountain, Beat Language,  L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E (from O’Hara, Ashbery, Koch, Creeley to Hejinian, Bernstein, Howe ) ; and, finally, Harvard and Radcliffe’s role in fostering poets from Gertrude Stein, Elizabeth Bishop  through June Jordan and Adrienne Rich. Our 20th century studies will take us to the Woodberry Poetry Room, to Houghton and Schlesinger libraries, and students in the seminar will make their own contribution to Harvard’s long poetic tradition by filming individual and group readings and interpretations of American poems for inclusion in the Poetry in America MOOC and other online outlets.

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