Modern Poetry I: Modernisms


Modernist poetry is remarkable for its inventive use of language, its use of allusion and layering of voices, its eagerness to break with poetic tradition and establish new, "modern" rhythms and idioms in poems. Writers, in conversation with the historical trauma of wars and revolutions as well as the excitement of new political initiatives and the new sciences, experimented with diction and form to evolve a poetry that could speak from the deepest experiences of their generation. We will track this impulse on an international compass, moving from Baudelaire in Paris and Dickinson in America to Futurism and Imagism and other international avant-gardes, highlighting the Harlem Renaissance, taking up poems by Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Jean Toomer, and Caribbean modernism, featuring Aimé Césaire, and Nicolás Guillén. We'll also be reading these poems in the context of the highly experimental visual work that sometimes accompanies them. Major individual figures include Gertrude Stein, Mina Loy, Ezra Pound, H.D., T. S. Eliot, David Jones, Marianne Moore, and Wallace Stevens. We will be reading this verse intensively as well as extensively, sounding the poems as poems and hearing them resonate in literary, cultural, and political history. Our interpretive work will take up a range of critical approaches, which we will also assess for their usefulness: old and new historicisms, modern cultural studies, race theory, psychoanalytic and feminist and Marxist orientations as well as postcolonial ways of reading. Satisfies the Twentieth Century and later requirement.
Course Attributes: EN H; AS HUM; FA HUM; EL TC

Section 01

Modern Poetry I: Modernisms
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