This course will consider American innovations in the poetic line. We will pay attention to the music of the individual line, working our way through the complications of prosody. Our readings will begin with Walt Whitman’s unending lines and Emily Dickinson’s short, sharpened ones. From these foundational poles in American verse, we will go on to measure key revolutions in the line in the twentieth century, including modernist poetic instigations, renewed verse forms of the Harlem Renaissance, lines driven by breath in beat and confessional verse, as well as experiments in language at the end of the century. In addition, we will read theoretical and philosophical inquiries into the ways in which the line extends, breaks, and finally ends. Course requirements: short response papers, in-class presentation, and final research paper.
KEYWORDS: Whitman, Dickinson, verse, prosody, modernism