Our thoughts and feelings about identity, self-expression, and the power of the imagination draw on the British Romantic poetry of the Long Eighteenth Century--whether we've read any or not. Focusing on John Keats (his key poems, and his key ideas, about 'negative capability', the 'camelion poet', and so on), this course makes unconventional connections into the twentieth, and twenty-first century. Tracking issues of race, class, gender and sexuality, we'll bounce from Keats into war verse; African-American poetries; world/postcolonial writing; the literature of social class; feminist experimentalism; and constructions of masculinity. Concentrators will learn how to analyze poetry in both closed and open forms.
Note: This course satisfies the English Concentration "Poets" requirement for the Class of 2022; formerly offered as English 58: Poets.
We'll look at poems, poets, kinds of poems, and their histories by thinking about the people the poems project: how does a piece of writing in verse (or in lyrical prose) work to let us imagine a person behind it, either its author or its character? When does the poem, instead, imagine you? How do poems entice us to care about them, and about the people they project? We'll look at historically major authors, likely with a special focus on Donne, Pope, Hughes, Bishop and Moore, along with contemporary poets including Estes, Hayes and Youn.
African American poets have long embraced the private freedoms of the lyric poem—freedom to claim the authority of an uncontested first person “I”; freedom to wrangle language into new and startling forms; freedom to depart as needed from the strictures of linear reality. And yet, from its earliest iterations, African American poetry has also concerned itself with correcting and complicating the official narrative of Black life and Black subjectivity in America. This course will explore the means by which Black poets have innovated upon the lyric tradition to accommodate a sense of allegiance to a collective. In this tradition, the lyric poem has become a powerful tool with which to ponder the dynamics of self and other, intimate and political—and justice and injustice. Course readings will include work by seminal 20th Century American figures such as Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden and Lucille Clifton, as well as contemporary voices like Jericho Brown, Tyehimba Jess, Morgan Parker, Eve L. Ewing and others. We will also devote attention to lyric corollaries in film, music, visual art and performance. Students will be encouraged to respond to course themes and texts in both critical and creative form.
Note: This course satisfies the English Concentration "Poets" requirement for the Class of 2022.