Reading Poetry

Reading Poetry

In this course, we will closely read a broad range of British and American poetry from the Renaissance through the present day. We will discuss traditional poetic periods and genres in order to appreciate poetry as an evolving, living art. However, this course is organized by theme as well as chronology, since as English-language verse grows and changes through history, much that inspires us to write and to read it remains similar. How does poetry help us express love, desire, devotion, and doubt? How does the poet relate to the world in which he or she lives? Can poetry make anything happen in the real world? What kind of role and future does poetry have in our society today?

An introduction to poetry in English, chiefly by British and American poets. We will explore the Renaissance, Romanticism, and Modernism in particular detail. Though the organization of the subject is chronological, our focus will be less on names and dates than on cultivating skills in careful reading and effective writing. Poets to be read may include Shakespeare, Sidney, Wordsworth, Keats, Dickinson, Frost, Eliot, and Elizabeth Bishop. Special course-related events (readings, lectures, film screenings) will take place on selected evenings throughout the term. Regular classroom hours will be reduced in the weeks for which special events are scheduled.