Major British Poets: Literary Form, Social Function, and the Making of a National Tradition
This course will introduce students to poems written by English and British poets after 1660. We will examine the different linguistic and socio-historical features of the craft of the poet (which includes asking the questions, “What, in any given historical moment, makes a poem a poem? a poet a poet?). We will trace continuities and disjunctions in the themes and forms of poems, as also track shifts in poetic self-representation. In this way we will delineate a history of poetic practices, while also learning key terms and methods in the literary-critical analysis of poetry (often called "close reading"). We will also think about questions of poetic form and function, and about the relationship between "traditional" and "unconventional" poetic practices at any given time.