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Thinking in Poetry

ENGL 705.401
instructor(s):
T 9-12

How are poems vehicles of thought? How do poems express the mind at work? Is poetic knowledge the enemy of reason? Does poetry involve cognitive experiences beyond those available to prose? Should thought and art be placed in the service of particular ends? Through metaphor, transformations of time, the expression of emotion and the resources of form, poetry gives us knowledge both unique to the experience of poetic works themselves and of cognitive value more generally. In this course we will read a number of works in the history of poetics concerned with poetic thinking beside a range of exemplary poems from various periods. Students will be responsible for four brief response papers and a final paper of 12-15 pages. Readings: Plato, The Republic, Book X and The Symposium; Sir Philip Sidney, "An Apology for Poetry"; Vico, from The New Science; Percy Shelley, "A Defense of Poetry"; Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, Chapters XIII and XIV; Wallace Stevens, "Two or Three Ideas" and "On Poetic Truth"; Paul Valery, "Poetry and Abstract Thought"; Owen Barfield, Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning; Martin Heidegger, What is Called Thinking; John Koethe, Poetry at One Remove poems: vernacular riddles, sonnets by Wyatt, Shakespeare, Donne, and Wroth: Milton, "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso"; Thomas Traherne, selected poems; Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, selected poems; Anne Finch's fables; William Cowper, selected poems; William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience; Emily Dickinson, selected poems; Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1885 sonnets; T.S. Eliot, "Four Quartets"; Gertrude Stein, "Stanzas in Meditation";� other selections from Wallace Stevens, Robert Hayden, Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, Frank O'Hara; John Ashbery, "Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror"