L357 1972 FOSTER
Twentieth-Century American Poetry

1:00p-2:15p TR (30) 3 cr.

This course will be organized around intensive readings in the work of five major American modernist poets of the first half of the twentieth century: Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), and Langston Hughes. We will probably spend two weeks or so on each of these poets, and the rest of the semester will focus on postmodern or post-World War II American poets who either react against these major modernist poets or whose contemporary poetry can be understood as extending the traditions established by the modernists.

Modernism is often defined as a project of "making it new," and specifically a movement that defined itself as a rejection of 19th-century literary conventions. This course will therefore be particularly concerned with the extent to which modernist poetry created an alternative to romantic and Victorian poetics. In what ways did modernist poets challenge basic assumptions about the definition of "poetry" itself? What kinds of writing can count as a poem? We will probably begin with some selections from the poetry and prose writings of T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, to define the modernist movement in poetry written in English, especially the Imagist movement. Finally, we will consider the question of the relationship between modernist and postmodernist poetics, using Paul Hoover's Postmodern American Poetry anthology.

Course requirements will include two papers, a take-home midterm exam, and a final exam.