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20th and 21st Century American Poetry

ENGL 088.001
instructor(s):
TR 12-1:30
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

Language laps formatively at the borders of both nations and selves. At the opening of the 20th century, various strands of modernism transformed poetry. The idea of what poetry should do, of what it was, impacted various locations and brought together various communities, both poetic and language-bound. We will explore the ways in which modernism(s) challenged relations between language, self, and world, as poets experimented with words' capabilities and limits in ways that continue to influence and shape the horizons of contemporary poetry and literary arts. Meanwhile, other traditions persist. In some places, several languages exist in complex relation to one another. In order to gain a sense of poetry across the continent, we will bring close attention to poems written by poets from the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada, and from various Native American tribes, considering the the oral tradition and the impact and possibility of translation and the circulation of language within and across borders, along with the ways in which race, heritage, sexuality, and gender influence and inflect voice and reception. Above all, we will pour our close attention though open, collaborative readings on selected individual poems, becoming confident readers of poetry with full permission to explore and experience works as unique, informed readers, remaining sensitive to all of the properties of language and the potentials unleashed when words constellate together. Students will gain an understanding of various historical movements up to the present, including current practice and circulation among audiences through performance and publication. Poets whose work may be encountered include Hart Crane, Ezra Pound, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Mina Loy, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, Aimé Césaire, Allen Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara, Robert Duncan, John Ashbery, Harryette Mullen, Sylvia Plath, Leslie Marmon Silko, Jerome Rothenberg, Anne Carson, Frank Stanford, Christian Bök, Kamau Braithwaite, Derek Walcott, Nancy Morejòn, Alice Notley, Teresa Hak Kyung Cha, M. Nourbese Philip, Monica Youn, and Claudia Rankine, among many others. Creative responses, several brief papers, and a final project will be required.