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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Brian Reed
ENGL 338
Seattle Campus

Modern Poetry

Poetry in the modernist mode, including such poets as Yeats, Eliot, Pound, Auden, and Moore.

Class description

This course ponders when, how, and why American poets begin to write “modernist� verse. We will begin by looking at different kinds of “vernacular modernism� 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 “everyday,� “common,� and “natural� language was anything other than a populist fiction: first, Gertrude Stein’s and Mina Loy’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 “high modernists� who dominate the 1920s (Moore, Pound, Stevens, Williams), we will spend several days concentrating on the most famous modernist poem, T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land.� How did this one peculiar poem end up symbolizing a generation and an era?

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lecture/discussion mix.

Recommended preparation

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%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Brian Reed
Date: 10/23/2013