Examines important literary movements and literary genres with attention to their historical context. Emphasizes issues of race, class, and gender.
Twentieth-Century American Poetry
Poetry is often imagined as making timeless statements about universal human truths, as being ethereal, ineffable, and transcendent--but poetry is always written, published, sold, and read under specific circumstances and in material forms. This course's exploration of twentieth-century American poetry will be guided by the question: how do historical context and material features shape the meaning of poems? We'll read (and look at, and listen to) a wide range of poems in books, manuscripts, magazines, broadsides, and recordings, and we'll consider how these material forms have been adopted and adapted by modernist, post-war, and contemporary poets. Along the way, you'll be developing your critical reading skills and expanding your understanding of poetry's role in American culture.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Each class session will typically include a combination of small group activities, large group discussion, brief lecture, and possibly a few minutes of in-class writing.
Although experience studying poetry and/or American literature will be an asset, this course assumes no prior knowledge of the topic and welcomes anyone interested in learning about American poetry, building knowledge collaboratively, and engaging in writing tasks that are creative as well as critical.
A willingness to respectfully discuss issues related to race, class, gender, sexuality, citizenship, and war as they relate to the poetry we study will also be an essential part of the collaboration for this course.
Class assignments and grading
Active, engaged, collaborative participation is important to the learning in this course and as such will be a significant component of your final grade. Expect to write a brief critical and/or creative writing assignment (graded on completion) in preparation for each class session.
The midterm project for this course will ask you to create a broadside of a poem from the course accompanied by an artist's statement. For your final project, you will be asked to interpret one of the poems from the course in a new visual, sculptural, audio, video, and/or digital form and write an analytical essay that articulates your interpretive choices in relation to the knowledge we have built in the course.