Autumn 2015

Autumn 2015 Courses



Lyric/Epincian Poetry (GREK 21700 / 31700)

This course will examine instances of Greek lyric genres throughout the archaic and classical periods, focusing on the structure, themes and sounds of the poetry and investigating their performative and historical contexts. Readings will include Alcman, Sappho, Alcaeus, Anacreon, Ibycus, Alcaeus, Simonides, Bacchylides, Pindar and Timotheus. In Greek.

Instructor: Sarah Nooter
Day and Time: T TR 12:00–1:20 PM


English Language and Literature

Milton (ENGL 17501 / FNDL 21201 / RLST 26405)

A study of Milton’s major writings in lyric, epic, tragedy, and political prose, with emphasis upon his evolving sense of his poetic vocation and career in relation to his vision of literary, political, and cosmic history.

Instructor: Joshua Scodel
Day and Time: T TR 10:30–11:50 AM

Ethnopoetics (ENGL 25963 / CRES 26903 / LACS 25963)

This course introduces students to contemporary debates about ethnicity and race as they have animated and have been animated by poetic forms. Its central questions revolve around tensions between ethnicity and race, especially where these tensions occur in poetic, artistic, and musical performance. From Franz Boas and Max Weber through Gerald Torres and Lani Guinier, problematics of ethnicity and race have animated critical discourses in anthropology, sociology, and legal studies. But the impact of these critical discourses on the making of poems, music, and visual material culture has been less observed. In this class, we will focus on this impact, reading works by such authors as Zitkala-Ša, Mary Austin, Jaime de Angulo, Aby Warburg, Jose Vasconcelos, Alfonso Reyes, Regino Pedroso, Sterling Brown, Jean Toomer, Amiri Baraka, Charles Olson, and Robert Duncan, in order to initiate a conversation on the reciprocal relationship between the critical study of ethnicity and race and the poetics of cultural life. Picking up this reciprocity at its other end, this course will conclude by studying the impact of poetics on the critical study of ethnicity and race in such authors as Clifford Geertz, Dennis Tedlock, Dell Hymes, Edouard Glissant, Gerald Vizenor, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Michael Taussig. Additionally, our course archive will be expanded with film screenings and art museum visits.

Instructor: Edgar Garcia
Day and Time: T TR 9:00–10:20 AM

How to Read Difficult Poems (ENGL 26703)

Different kinds of difficulty will be identified in English-language poems of different periods and appropriate reading strategies developed. The aim is an education in the pleasures and rigors of difficulty, and subsequently in the art of making difficulties out of apparent simplicity. Along the way participants will engage with some extraordinary poems.

Instructor: John Wilkinson
Day and Time: T TR 1:30–2:50 PM

Emily Dickinson (ENGL 45406 / AMER 45406)
Instructor: Janice Knight
Day and Time: MW 4:30–5:50 PM

Contemporary Latino/a Poetry (ENGL 47905 / AMER 47905 / LACS 47905)

From Julia de Burgos’ feminist poems of the 1930s to poetry of the Chicano Movement, Nuyorican performance poetry, and contemporary “Avant-Latino” experiments, this course explores the eclectic forms, aesthetics, and political engagements of Latin@ poetry in the 20th and 21st centuries. We’ll examine multimedia and performance modes (the boundaries between page and stage), experimentalism, bilingualism, code-switching, self-translation, and the imbrication of aesthetics and politics in the development of Latin@ poetry. In the process, we’ll debate the usefulness of the term “Latino” to unite writers of disparate backgrounds and tendencies. Theoretical readings will be drawn from the fields of poetry and poetics, Latin@ Studies, Latin American Studies, postcolonial studies, critical race theory, and Hemispheric Studies, as we explore Latin@ poetry in the context of migration and pluri-national affiliations; globalization, neoliberalism, and US foreign policy; Latin@ poetry’s response to technological and socio-political change; its critique of ideologies around race, gender, and sexuality; and its dialogue with indigenous, Latin American, North American, and European literatures.

Instructor: Rachel Galvin
Day and Time: T TR 3:00–4:20 PM

Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations

Arabic Sufi Poetry (ARAB 40300 / ISLM 50300 / RLIT 50300)

The course will focus on the love poetry of three 7th/13th century Sufi poets: Ibn al-'Arabi, Ibn al-Farid, and Abulhasan al-Shushtari.

Instructor: Michael Sells
Day and Time: T 1:30–4:20

Russian and East European Studies

Pushkin and Gogol (REES 26047 / REES 36047 / FNDL 26047)

Alexander Pushkin (1799–1837) is widely considered the founding genius of modern Russian literature, especially in his lyric and epic poetry; Nikolai Gogol (1809–1852) injected a manic strain of magic realism to create the modern Russian novel. Apollon Grigor’ev later called Pushkin “our everything”; Dostoevsky claimed “We all emerged out of Gogol’s ‘Overcoat.’” During the quarter we will read a representative selection of both writers’ major works, including Pushkin’s verse novel Evgenii Onegin, verse epic The Bronze Horseman, and novel The Captain’s Daughter, and Gogol’s novel Dead Souls in addition to his fantastic stories “The Nose” and “The Overcoat.” We will focus on close readings of the texts, paying particular attention to their experiments with literary form, as well as attending to their broader historical contextualization. We will focus particularly on the conceptions of realism projected by the texts and imposed by later readers. All readings will be in English translation.

Instructor: Robert Bird
Day and Time: T TR 10:30–11:50 AM

South Asian Languages and Civilizations

Intro to Premodern South Asian Lit: Courts, Poets, Power (SALC 22603)

The Indian subcontinent and the surrounding areas were home to some of the most vibrant literary traditions in world history. The aim of this course is to introduce students to the main trends in the premodern (pre-nineteenth century) literatures of South Asia through a selection of texts translated from a variety of languages (Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, etc.). We will discuss issues of literary historiography, the relations between orality and writing, the basic principles of Dravidian, Sanskrit, and Perso-Arabic poetics, the formation of vernacular literary traditions, multilingual literacy, and the role of literature in social interactions and community building in premodern South Asia. Each reading will thus be framed by the systematic exploration of those poetic systems and a close reading of representative texts. Attention will also be given to the original languages in which those texts were composed. The course offers a comprehensive and critical introduction to major non-western knowledge systems and aesthetic theories.

Instructor: Thibaut D’Hubert
Day and Time: MW 3:00–4:20 PM


Creative Writing Workshops in Poetry

Fundamentals of Poetry (CRWR 10305 / 30305)

Based on the premise that successful experimentation stems from a deep understanding of tradition, this course will help students gain a foundation in poetic constructions while encouraging risk-taking in expression and craft. It will expose students to ways that poets have both employed and resisted patterns in meter, line, and rhyme, and it will ask students to experiment with constraints as a way of playing with formal limitations in their own poems. Students will also explore innovations in diction, syntax, and voice, and apply what they learn from these investigations in workshop discussions. While delving into work by both canonical and emerging poets, students will draft and revise a significant portfolio of their own poems.

Instructor: Jessica Savitz
Day and Time: Thursdays, 9:00–11:50 AM

Special Topics in Poetry: Poetry, Sound, Voice (CRWR 13010 / 33010)

This is not a course in formal metrics, but a course in prosody as a mode of thinking. It will begin to address rhythm, rhyme, vowel and consonantal patterns, line-breaks, openings, endings, harmonics, dissonance, punctuation, the hard to speak, and other non-semantic (chiefly sonic) resources for verse writers. Highly disparate practices will be discussed. Workshops will focus on non-semantic features of students’ writing.

Instructor: John Wilkinson
Day and Time: Wednesdays, 12:30–3:20 PM

Special Topics in Poetry: Waste, Surplus, and Reuse (CRWR 13013 / 33013)

What do we do with surplus, with the extras, leftovers, and other excesses of production? Is there a creative use to put it to? When matters of ecology and economy are concerned, is there an ethical imperative to do so? Or is there also an ethics and aesthetics of the useless? This course considers forms of excess (literary, artistic, economic, etc.) and how they may be approached creatively. We’ll examine diverse types of waste, including literal trash, architectural ruins, bodily waste, wasted time, the dream, and everyday texts (such as emails, text messages, and media). Texts may include Agnes Varda’s documentary The Gleaners and I, Lyn Hejinian’s The Fatalist, Georges Perec’s An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, Kafka’s fiction, art movements such as Dada and Fluxus, Internet memes, Apollinaire’s conversation poems, Tom Phillips A Humument, Rondald Johnson’s Radi os, Eliot’s The Waste Land, A. R. Ammon’s Garbage, Hopkins’ environmental poems, André Breton’s Mad Love, and essays by Georges Bataille and Eliot Weinberger.

Instructor: Nathan Hoks
Day and Time: Wednesdays, 9:30–12:20 PM


The course descriptions above are to the best of our knowledge the most recent available. The descriptions from previous years can be found at UChicago Catalogs or on department websites.