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Poetry and Art of New York: World War II to Present

ENGL 088.001
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major

The figure of the poet in contemplative isolation becomes in the transition from romanticism to modernism  the urban observer, a figure at the crux of artistic collaboration in the urban crucible, mingling influentially with painters, emergent filmmakers, dancers. This class will take New York City as a case study, investigating the idea of urban space as a motor and muse for artistic and poetic practice. We’ll begin with Whitman, Hart Crane, the Algonquin, Langston Hughes. We’ll look at institutions temporary, ad hoc, governmental, and otherwise financed. We'll study collaborative and individual work that might have happened nowhere else, from the painters and poets given the label of the  “New York School,”  Jackson Pollock to Frank O’Hara to Alice Notley to Joe Brainard. We'll consider the impact of figures such as John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Andy Warhol, Jonas Mekas, Audre Lorde, Robert Smithson, Allan Kaprow, Patti Smith, Eileen Myles. We’ll read Rem Koolhaus’s Delirious New York as well as critical urban studies and give critical consideration to the city’s promise that continues to pull aspiring writers and artists to tiny apartments in the boroughs. Students will be responsible for short reflection papers, a presentation, a field trip, and final research projects that will work together to map the city over time. No previous experience required.