Folklore | What is Poetry?
E103 | 27165 | J. McDowell


This course invites the student to notice and assess a universal
poetic impulse, that is, a thoroughly human tendency to create
artistic verbal patterns in sound and sense. We challenge the notion
that poetry exists mostly in literary tomes, instead pursuing a
poetic impulse running through the verbal expressions of the world’s
peoples. Students initially develop a tool-kit for identifying and
describing poetic resources in everyday life. We then use these
tools on our own verbal environments to explore poetic elements in
the stories and jests of “ordinary” conversation. Then we embark on
a tour of oral poetry traditions in the Andes of South America, in
West Africa, and in greater Mexico (including Mexico-America). Our
goal is to recognize and appreciate the techniques, uses, and
functions of the poetic impulse in the lives of individuals and
communities.