Topics in American Poetry: Poetry, Religion, and the Presidency cancelled
From America's founding to the present day, the presidency has been a lightning rod for expressions of national pride and full-throated dissent. This is especially true of poets, who have a range of poetic forms at their disposal for addressing the powerful, and whose cultural authority has long been thought to complement or rival political authority. Against the backdrop of heated debates about the proper relation between church and state, we will ask why religion has been a relatively steady presence in the tradition of American presidential poetry. We will analyze how and why American poets invest presidential politics with religious significance by reading neoclassical epics, Christ-like portraits, martyrological elegies, Inaugural poems, and prophetic jeremiads. Poets on the syllabus might include Joel Barlow, Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Frost, and others. Course requirements will include brief weekly writing assignments, a longer midterm paper, and a final research paper.