Spring 2022

21L.487 Modern Poetry: Worlds Made and Unmade Noel Jackson TR 1:00-2:30p 2-103

Prereq: One subject in Literature
3-0-9 HASS-H
Topics: Improves Close Reading, Improves Oral Communication, Includes Critical Theory, Thinks about Gender or Sexuality, Thinks about Popular Culture, Thinks about Race or Class, Thinks about Social Justice Issues

A long tradition of thought endows poetry – derived from the Greek word poiesis, meaning “to make” – with the privilege not just to reflect the social world, but to shape it after its own beautiful image. By this understanding, poetry is naturally suited to utopian imaginings. But in a good deal of modern English-language poetry, poets’ utopian aspirations confront the intractable matter of the world that they would transform or recreate. In the midst of ruins, their poetry explores and seeks to extend the limits of its efficacy to make the world new. We will begin with some poetry of the previous century that responds to contemporary revolutions in America, France, and Haiti. Starting from the modern utopian experiments of the Romantic era, we will then read mainly 20th-century poetry, both utopian and dystopian, by poets including W.B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, Wallace Stevens, Allen Ginsberg, Diane di Prima, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, as well as the work of some contemporaries.