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C LIT 240 B: Writing In Comparative Literature

How to Read 20th-Century Poetry and Why

Summer Term: 
B-term
Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 10:20am - 12:30pm
Location: 
THO 231
SLN: 
10580
Instructor:
Brad photo
Brad Gerhardt

Syllabus Description:

How to Read 20th-Century Poetry and Why

Although there are a number of conflicting perceptions of poetry since it “got confusing and stopped rhyming,” one pervasive reaction is simply dismissal: poetry is irrelevant, esoteric, self-indulgent, and so forth. This perception is partly due to the New Critical model of studying poems in isolation and identifying a wide range of interpretive tactics which are required to “understand” the poem. While this has helped in some ways to make the “craft” of poetry more apparent to the reader, in many ways it has also alienated readers and taught them to consider themselves outsiders to the discourse of poetry unless they have completed a rigid “discipleship” in poetic form. Our aims in C LIT 240 are in many ways a resistance to this model; the reading practice we will employ has relatively modest claims: 1. the equipment needed to read poetry does not come from prosody manuals: it tends to consist of eyes, brains, tongues, and ears; 2. the basic unit of poetry is not the individual poem but the book of poems; and 3. poetry actually is important, and primarily in a subjective and not an academic sense. We will be reading a range of 20th century poets, from Gertrude Stein and Anne Carson to William Carlos Williams and Ted Hughes, and simply practicing the art of reading and the skill of responding to texts through writing. As a composition course, we will focus on specific elements of the writing process, including analysis, organization, audience, and the comparative method.

This one month course fulfills the 5-credit English composition (C) requirement, or half of the 10-credit additional writing (W) requirement (w/grade 2.0+)

 

REQUIRED TEXTS:

Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse, (Vintage, ISBN: 978-0375701290)

Lyn Hejinian, My Life and My Life in the Nineties (Wesleyan Poetry, ISBN: 9780819573513)

Sylvia Plath, Ariel: The Restored Edition (Harper Perennial Classics, ISBN: 978-0060732608)

Ted Hughes, The Birthday Letters (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, ISBN: 978-0374525811)

Additional Details:

Although there are a number of conflicting perceptions of poetry since it “got confusing and stopped rhyming,” one pervasive reaction is simply dismissal: poetry is irrelevant, esoteric, self-indulgent, and so forth. This perception is partly due to the New Critical model of studying poems in isolation and identifying a wide range of interpretive tactics which are required to “understand” the poem. While this has helped in some ways to make the “craft” of poetry more apparent to the reader, in many ways it has also alienated readers and taught them to consider themselves outsiders to the discourse of poetry unless they have completed a rigid “discipleship” in poetic form. Our aims in C LIT 240 are in many ways a resistance to this model; the reading practice we will employ has relatively modest claims: 1. the equipment needed to read poetry does not come from prosody manuals: it tends to consist of eyes, brains, tongues, and ears; 2. the basic unit of poetry is not the individual poem but the book of poems; and 3. poetry actually is important, and primarily in a subjective and not an academic sense. We will be reading a range of 20th century poets, from Gertrude Stein and Anne Carson to William Carlos Williams and Ted Hughes, and simply practicing the art of reading and the skill of responding to texts through writing. As a composition course, we will focus on specific elements of the writing process, including analysis, organization, audience, and the comparative method. 

Catalog Description: 
Comparative approach to literature and a workshop in writing comparative papers in English. Emphasis on cross-cultural comparison of literary works. Readings in English with an option to read selected texts in the original languages Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements Met: 
English Composition (C)
Writing (W)
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:12pm
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