This course provides an introduction to some of the major figures in
American poetry since 1855, focusing on the twentieth century. It also
functions as a course in how to read, understand, enjoy, and
write about poetry in general. With Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson,
Wallace Stevens, T. S. Eliot, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Elizabeth Bishop,
Robert Lowell, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Adrienne Rich as some of our
examples, we will examine recent trends and begin to understand
contemporary debates. We will overcome a lot of "poetry anxiety"-- the
common feeling that one is too dense or too ignorant to read poetry
"properly." By the end of the semester, students will be competent (and
confident) to pick up a book of poetry from the "New Titles" section at
Borders and browse through it with understanding and appreciation.
Note: This course is obviously ideal for students concentrating in poetry
as a genre. It may also be used in the concentration by students
concentrating in the 20th century as a literary period.