In this course we will study the work of various important poets writing in English in the post-world-War II period. In examining the work of these poets, we will try to discover what is distinctive about their achievements, while also relating their work to relevant traditions and to the contexts of the poets' lives and times. In addition to a close reading of individual poems, we will also read selected critical essays and commentaries, not only as a means to elucidate the poems, but also to serve as models for our own critical writing. Our primary goal will be to increase our understanding and appreciation of late modern and contemporary poetry. Ongoing questions for discussion include:
By the end of the course, you should be able to respond to all of these questions with a high degree of specificity in reference to the poets on the syllabus. You should have acquired a good understanding of important themes and developments in post-World War II poetics and a better sense of the art and craft of intelligent and perceptive literary criticism, as demonstrated in your own research paper and final presentation. As this is III.0 course, you will also be given multiple opportunities for informal and formal oral participation and pointers on how to become a more effective discussant and presenter.
- What purposes might poetry serve in different contexts and for different audiences?
- What kinds of relationships with the audience or reader do these poets construct within their work?
- What role, if any, might a poet's gender, race, class, sexuality, or nationality play in his or her work and its reception?
- Who decides what poetry is worth remembering -- and studying in school -- and how is this determined? Which audiences "count," in these determinations?
- How do these poets enrich, complicate, and renew our sense of poetry in our time?
• Jahan Ramazani, Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry (3rd edition)
• Additional poems and critical essays (on Reserve)
Brief (250-300 words) typed responses to the poems for the class session in which they will be discussed.
Two "Adopt-a-Poet" sessions in which you (or you and a partner) lead the class discussion.
A research proposal (250-300 words) with a tentative "Works Cited"; an 8-10 pp. critical research paper with a "Works Cited" page; a formal presentation to the class, based on your research paper for the course, to substitute for the final exam and to be scheduled during exam week. Click here for details. A portfolio of your work for the course and a final retrospective entry (750 words).
In keeping with College policy, you are expected to attend all of our class sessions. Normally, paper deadlines will be extended and absences excused only in the case of a documented personal, family, or medical emergency. This is a discussion-based class. Because absences will limit what you can gain from and give to the clas, they will invariably affect your final grade.
This course may be used to fulfill an oral skills requirement. You are expected to prepare the readings assigned for each session (including any assigned critical materials) and to take an active role in class discussion. Active participation includes introducing ideas, raising questions, and building upon or helping to clarify the responses of others. You will often be called upon to read your responses aloud and to read aloud from the poems assigned for the day. If you find it difficult to speak up in class, please come and talk with me as soon as possible. We will periodically review criteria for oral skills and will use peer review forms for evaluating Adopt-a-Poet sessions and your formal presentations. If the objectives for these activities are not clear or you would like additional help and practice, please don't hesitate to talk with me.
A senior exercise in this course (essay and presentation) will substitute for therequired research paper and final presentation (and therefore will count 40% of the final grade for the course).
Approximate breakdown of final grade: 5% research proposal; 20% 8-10pp. research paper; 25% portfolio;10% retrospective entry; 15% presentation based on your research paper; 25% class participation (including Adopt-a-Poet sessions).
Please bear in mind that plagiarism, even when unintentional, is a serious offense and a violation of the honor policy. Any student found guilty of plagiarism in this course will automatically fail the course, in addition to whatever penalties are imposed by the student judicial system. If you are not sure what plagiarism is, always ask your instructor. This is a discussion-based class. Because absences will limit what you can gain from and give to the class, they will invariably affect your final grade.