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Music and Literature: Sounding Poetry

ENGL 054.910
MW 1:15-5:05 pm



It would be a mistake, argues Adalaide Morris, to consign “orality to a preliterate past.” Indeed hip hop, spoken word, sound and jazz poetry make up our contemporary soundscapes. This course explores the intersections between music, sound, and performance. How does music and sound affect literature? What is the relationship between the page and performance? What traces of the West African singing poets and Southern African praise songs can we hear in the blues?To answer these questions, we will examine the bardic traditions of Homer’s Iliad and consider their continuities and ruptures in the poetry of the nineteenth and early twentieth century (Wordsmith, Longfellow, Ezra Pound). We will listen to early blues and jazz music and attend to their impact on African American modernists (Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Georgia Douglas Johnson) and the Beat generation (Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman). Furthermore, we will examine the influence of music on the poetic forms and vernacular speech of Pacific and the Caribbean writers (Selina Marsh, Kamau Braithwaite) and compare their experiments along side spoken word, dub poetry, and hip hop. Assignments may include 2 papers, a group performance, and a creative adaptation of a poem.



fulfills requirements
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Sector III: Arts & Letters of the College's General Education Curriculum