English | Twentieth-Century American Poetry
L357 | 27679 | George Hutchinson

George Hutchinson

2:30p-3:45p TR (30 students) 3 cr, A&H.

Twentieth-century poetry by self-described Americans has been
closely identified with what Ezra Pound famously termed the
challenge to "Make It New."  Yet the question of just what "making
it new" might mean was itself so hotly contested throughout the
century that the course of poetry in that ersatz period can appear a
bewilderingly complex and incoherent phenomenon–as does some of the
poetry itself to many readers.  Why did poets feel the need to make
it new?  What did making it new mean to people entering the
institution of "poetry" from different social positions?  We will
look at a number of different forms of poetry developed by poets
from the United States, not forgetting to note the extent to
which "Americanism" was or was not of concern to them in their
formal and thematic experimentation.  I will make room for a few
writers who were considered central to contemporary poetry in their
time but who have dropped from favor since; this will allow us to
ask why.  Most of the semester will be devoted to the different
forms of poetic "modernism," but at least the last four weeks will
be devoted to work of poets sometimes called "postmodern."  We will
consider what differentiates postmodernism from modernism as
traditionally conceived as well as the trends within or outside
modernism that helped produce a turning after World War II.  Poets
will include Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, Edna St. Vincent Millay,
Wallace Stevens, Langston Hughes, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath,
Adrienne Rich, and Amiri Baraka, among others.  Written assignments
will include two papers and two exams.