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British Poetry and the Globe: 1660-1914 cancelled

ENGL 040.301
MW 3:30-5:00pm

This is a course on British poetry that aims to affirm and elaborate the connection between small-scale textual phenomena and global political life. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Great Britain’s interest and investments across the globe expanded to an unprecedented scale. Before the end of Queen Victoria’s life it was possible to say of the British Empire that it never saw the dusk of a setting sun. Such an utterance depends on the successful operation of a sophisticated but more or less unnoticed sequence of figurative syntheses, from the associations of alliterative pairing, to the parallel mechanisms of metonymy and metaphor. Though you already perform this operation, you won’t be required to recognize its features in advance; we’ll pick them up along the way. These techniques, among others, are the foundations of poetic discourse, and for this reason, poems claim pride of place as the richest textual artifacts of the effects of “real world” politics on imaginative language—and vice versa. From the poems of the English Restoration and Enlightenment to the poems of the global cataclysm of the first world war, this course will teach you some fundamental techniques for making sense of poetic form, and, what is perhaps more important, it will offer some initial methods to restore the relationship between creative expression and our disputatious, but ultimately shared world.

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