English | Topics in Current Literature
W664 | 25264 | Dean

W664  25264 DEAN
Topics in Current Literature

5:45p – 8:45p W



According to Roderick Nash, in many traditions, paradise was located
on an island; like the biblical garden of Eden, it was believed to
be a place set apart, a place where there was no gap between desire
and fulfillment.  Beginning with the Romantic poets, childhood
became the locus of a private paradise, lost through an inevitable
fall out of innocence and into the world of experience.  If we have,
indeed, fallen, where is it we find ourselves?  To grapple with
another’s answer to this question is to consider some of the
assumptions underlying our sense of our selves, our world, and our
place in it.

Through the poetry and prose of contemporary poets, we will be
exploring “place” in two senses of the word:  place as location,
both geographical and spiritual, and as it is related to the idea of
place as function or duty.  Among the collections of poetry being
considered for this course are Elizabeth Bishop’s Geography III,
Robert Hass’ Praise, Louise Glück’s The Wild Iris, W.S. Merwin’s The
Rain in the Trees, Yusef Komunyakaa’s Magic City, Martín Espada’s
The Republic of Poetry, Agha Shahid Ali’s The Country without a Post
Office, Wislawa Szymborska’s Poems New and Collected, Mahmoud
Darwish’s Unfortunately, It Was Paradise, and Ko Un’s Abiding
Places.  Supplementary reading will include essays by Salman
Rushdie, Terence Des Pres, and Larry Levis.

Work for this course includes two short (5 pages) papers, a
presentation, and one long (10-15 pages) paper.