Comparative Literature | Writing Structured Verse
C611 | 13008 | Prof. Hofstadter
Writing Structured Verse
Douglas R. Hofstadter
Professor of Comparative Literature
CMLT C611 Class No. 13008
3 credit hours
T/R 11:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
In the twentieth century, structured verse suffered a dramatic
decline, in favor of free verse. This effectively meant that the
sonic or musical charm of poetry, long considered a central element
of the art, was lost, replaced by more abstract and less accessible
features. As a result, a large fraction of well-educated people
today find much of modern poetry austere, and possibly even opaque
Is structured or "musical" verse completely outdated, or can it
be revived and made to live and express important ideas today? The
premise of this seminar is that structured verse deserves a central
spot in today's poetry. Students in this seminar will thus read and
write structured verse of many forms, including novel forms that they
themselves dream up. We will also study and critique structured and
nonstructured verse by a wide variety of authors and lyricists,
including Dante Alighieri, Alexander Pushkin, Clément Marot, Cole
Porter, Oscar Hammerstein, Kellie Gutman, Vikram Seth, Dylan Thomas,
John Updike, Richard Wilbur, Vladimir Nabokov, William Carlos
Williams, Seamus Heaney, and many others, some well known, some
Students' grades will of course be based on a portfolio of
their own works written over the semester, but also on their day-to-
day contributions to the discussion of poetry, its aims, and its
degrees of success and failure.
Books consulted will include:
Willis Barnstone: The Secret Reader.
e. e. cummings: 100 Verse Selections.
Kellie Gutman: A Cup of Tea with Lunacy.
D. Hofstadter: Le Ton beau de Marot.
Alexander Pushkin: Eugene Onegin (in various translations).
Vikram Seth: The Golden Gate.
John Updike: Collected Verse.