Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Modernist Poetics and its Discontents

ENGL 795.401



The disjunction between the poetics and the poetry of the modernist period is quite striking. The poetics – as articulated in the well-circulated statements of Pound, Stein, Eliot, Williams, Riding, Moore, Zukofsky, Olson, et al. – are fascinating, but they make the most equivocal guides to the writing itself. Stein's lecture on Tender Buttons sheds only the feeblest, most anecdotal light on that recalcitrant text; Zukofsky's terse essays on poetry are of surprisingly little help in reading Zukofsky's poetry; etc. We will read in both sides of these improbable equations. In all cases, since the bodies of work are complex, we will read exemplary excerpts rather the entire corpus. The point will be to obtain an efficient grasp of the variety of the poetry. The larger point of the course will be to examine the enterprise of poetics as it has emerged throughout the prior century.

 Undergraduates are not permitted to take 700-level courses.

Cross-listed: COML795:401