Poetry in the modernist mode, including such poets as Yeats, Eliot, Pound, Auden, and Moore.
This course ponders when, how, and why American poets begin to write â€śmodernistâ€? verse. We will begin by looking at different kinds of â€śvernacular modernismâ€? that emerge around 1910 (Imagism, the Chicago School) and examine a later figure who extends and complicates this mode (Langston Hughes). Poetry, these various figures believed, should be written in a language as close to everyday American speech as possible. Not everyone agreed. We will look at two other kinds of 1910s modernism that questioned whether an â€śeveryday,â€? â€ścommon,â€? and â€śnaturalâ€? language was anything other than a populist fiction: first, Gertrude Steinâ€™s and Mina Loyâ€™s avant-garde verse and, second, the oblique allusive ironic style pioneered by T.S. Eliot in Prufrock and Other Observations. After a survey of several of the ambitious â€śhigh modernistsâ€? who dominate the 1920s (Moore, Pound, Stevens, Williams), we will spend several days concentrating on the most famous modernist poem, T.S. Eliotâ€™s â€śThe Waste Land.â€? How did this one peculiar poem end up symbolizing a generation and an era?
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Recommended: English 202 and 302 or equivalent.
Previous coursework in poetry helpful but not necessary.
Class assignments and grading
Two essays and a final exam.
Paper #1 -- 20% Paper #2 -- 35% Final Exam -- 45%