Comparative Literature | Topics in Literature: Writing Structured Verse
C611 | 1243 | Douglas Hofstadter


Above section meets with C400 and ENG W680
TR    11:15-12:30     BH 235

The purpose of this seminar is to expose students to forms of verse
that afford profound musical pleasure to the listening ear, and to get
students to learn to express themselves in such forms, both old and
new in style.
By virtue of being human, we are all innately susceptible to sonic
patterns; indeed, we take great pleasure in them, whether they involve
rhyme, rhythm, repetition, alliteration, parallel syntactic
structures, or other devices.  The great poets of the past -- from
Shakespeare to Dante to Goethe to Pushkin to Keats to Poe to Hugo to
Verlaine to Rostand to e. e. cummings and so on -- knew this
intimately and exploited it to the hilt. For us today, there are
always new types of pattern and new ways of exploiting old types of
pattern.
Students will be exposed to many types of structured verse by
such writers as the poets mentioned above, as well as Vikram Seth,
Vladimir Nabokov, Oscar Hammerstein, Cole Porter, John Updike, Richard
Wilbur, and others.  The idea of "performing" a piece of poetry --
whether by reciting it from memory or by reading it aloud -- will play
a central role, and each student will be expected to "perform" poems
one or more times.  Students will also write poems in many different
forms, especially forms that they invent for themselves, and they will
perform their poetic creations for the class.  Exploration of new
types of form, pattern, or structure will be particularly encouraged.
The key goal of the seminar is to make students aware of the rich
potential residing in the world of regular, semiregular, and irregular
patterns.

*Required Texts:  John Drury:  "The Poetry Dictionary", Timothy
Steele:  "All the Fun's in How You Say a Thing", Miller Williams:  "
Patterns of Poetry",
Douglas Hofstadter:  "Le Ton beau de Marot", Vikram Seth:  "The
Golden Gate"