Honors | Poetry and Memory
C315 | 1279 | Marks
2:30-3:45P TR BH235
The transformative role of remembrance in modern poems from
Wordsworth to the present, all of which share an implicit belief that
personal identity is a function of memory. Although our main concern
will be with strategies of interpretation, we shall also be looking at
definitions of memory, personal and collective, at memory's part in
the construction of experience, and at pathologies of memory as
expressed in melancholia or depression; and we shall be trying to
understand the relevance of these issues to such traditional lyric
modes as the elegy (poems of invocation) and the epitaph or "tombeau"
(poems of memorializations). Each week will be devoted to one
important poem or small set of poems, so as to allow for closer study.
Tentative readings: poems by Wordsworth, Holderlin, Whitman,
Mallarme, Hardy, Rilke, Cavafy, Yeats, Stevens, Bishop, Larkin, and
Merrill; prose selections from William James, Freud, Proust, Stephen
Owen, and Juliet Mitchell.
Undergraduates will write two ten-page papers. Graduate students
will have the option of writing a final essay instead of the short
papers and will be expected to do supplementary reading in the theory
of the lyric.
Prerequisite (undergraduates): a previous course in literary
interpretation at the 200-level or above, or permission of the
instructor. Knowledge of French or German helpful but not necessary.