Williams' body of work--poems, novels, short stories, prose-verse hybrids, criticism, plays--is a valuable part of Anglo-American modernism and a major influence on subsequent American poetry. But what is especially interesting about Williams is the perpetual multivalence of his literary and social situation. The audience he addressed was always disparate: Pound/Eliot and the Polytopics Club of Rutherford, New Jersey, say. The hybrid quality of his writing shows up at all levels: his vocabulary, syntax, form, and where he published.
We will read his work in relation to various contexts: the high modernism of Pound, H. D., Eliot, Moore, Stevens, Joyce, and others; his confrontation with the dadist-feminist Baroness von Freytag-Loringhoven; the 'Objectivists' (Zukofsky, Reznikoff, Oppen); left-wing poetry of the 30s; Projective Verse (Olson & Creeley); and the Beats (Ginsberg).