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Major British Poets 1660-Present

ENGL 040.910
instructor(s):
MTWR 10:40-12

From the stately sentiments of Restoration verse to the self-conscious poetics of high Modernism, this course will survey a varied selection of British poets and poetry. Why is eighteenth-century verse cluttered with soiled petticoats, tea-cups, and decks of cards? How is London abhorred, revered, or feared by different poets at different historical moments? How does the choice to write an elegy, an ode, or a sonnet, invoke a literary tradition and impact the meaning of a poem? As these questions suggest, we will consider the material and social content and contexts of the poems as well as such formal aspects as genre, rhyme and meter. We will also examine assumptions about literary periods--Romantic, Victorian, Modern--and the ways in which changes in English poetry across time contribute to changing notions of the English nation and its subjects. Emphasis will be placed on class discussion and close reading. Students should expect frequent short writing assignments as well as three papers and a final exam. Poets will be selected from, among others, Alexander Pope, Jonathon Swift, Anne Finch, William Wordsworth, S.T. Coleridge, Charlotte Smith, Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Tennyson, Yeats, Stein and Eliot.