English | Twentieth-Century American Poetry
L357 | 24768 | Judith Brown

Judith Brown

2:30p-3:20p MWF (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.

In this course we will focus on American poetry of the early- and
mid-twentieth century.  We will consider works from various literary
movements (modernism, Harlem Renaissance, Black Arts Movement, Black
Mountain, Beats) and works that resist such categorization.  Poets
will include Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Hart Crane, Langston
Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Charles Olson, Amiri Baraka, Elizabeth Bishop,
Gwendolyn Brooks, and Allen Ginsberg, among others.  Does a
distinctly American poetic unite these works?  What is the interplay
between poetic form and content?  The written and the oral?  Where
does the body enter the poem?   Charles Olson wrote that “verse now,
1950, if it is to go ahead, if it is to be of essential use, must, I
take it, catch up and put into itself certain laws and possibilities
of the breath, of the breathing of the man who writes as well as of
his listenings.  (The revolution of the ear, 1910, the trochee’s
heave, asks it of the younger poets.)”  Can we locate breath, lungs,
stomach, mouth in the poetry of the last century?  What are the
possibilities of the raced and gendered body?  Does sexuality shape
poetics?  Our conversations will be wide-ranging as we consider,
over the course of the semester, the American poetic landscape, the
poetic body, and the poet’s breath on the page.

This class will mix lecture with discussion.  Course requirements
will include a midterm and final exam, two critical papers, and
strong participation.