Spring 2015 Courses
ENGL 15000 / 35001 | Old English Poetry
Christina von Nolcken
A reading of some of the major poems in Old English. In addition to the texts, the course will examine the nature of the textual and critical problems encountered in studying this literature. There will be a term paper and a final examination.
ENGL 21912 | Modern Love in Victorian Poetry and Prose
This course reads much poetry and some fiction to investigate the relationship between modernity and love in Victorian literary culture. We turn to such writers as Browning, Tennyson, Trollope, and Gissing to consider “modern love”—the forms and functions assumed by erotic attachment in the wake of political, technological and social modernizations.
ENGL 20221 | Unsettling Metaphysical Poetry
Through the close study of key sixteenth and seventeenth century English religious poets (Robert Southwell, John Donne, Amelia Lanyer, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, and Thomas Traherne—with some guest appearances) this course explores the early modern period’s surprisingly subversive modes of relating to the divine, scripture, the body, uncertainty, and death among other subjects.
This course develops advanced German skills through the study of poetry of various authors from different periods.
Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
ISLM 40834 | Pre-Islamic Poetry: Mu’allaqat, Sa’alik, ritha’
CRWR 10300/30300 | Beginning Poetry Writing
In this course, we will consider the memory of childhood as a touchstone for generating images, metaphors, and sensory data for our own original poetry. Encountering Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, Alice Notley’s Mysteries of Small Houses, and The Wilds by Mark Levine, we will imagine the realm of childhood in terms of adventure, eruptions in consciousness, and domestic spaces that may or may not “shelter daydreaming.” More expansive than strict autobiography, we will craft poetry rich in symbolic action, considering the personal and cultural revelations in such poems as Doty’s “A Replica of the Parthenon” and Roethke’s “Child On Top of a Greenhouse.” Students will develop a substantial portfolio of original work, and will refine their knowledge of poetic craft, history and theory.
CRWR 10350/30350 | Honors Beginning Poetry Writing
The idea that poetry animates the music of language is commonplace. And yet, Aimé Césaire provocatively suggests that “The only acceptable music comes from somewhere deeper than sound. The search for music is a crime against the music of poetry which can only be the beating of the mind’s wave against the rock of the world.” What is this music “deeper than sound”? How is it related to the more obvious “audible” sounds of poetry? This course invites students to experiment with both the audible and inaudible elements of poetry. We’ll practice traditional music-making devices, such as rhythm and rhyme, at the same time that we explore the musical movements of mind and the moods that lyricism makes available. The class will practice literary community building by discussing peers’ poems in workshops, by attending readings and lectures on campus, and by responding to poems and essays by contemporary and modern poets and critics. While students’ original poems will be the primary texts, additional readings will likely include diverse texts, including poetry by John Yau, Rosemarie Waldrop, Peter Gizzi, Lisa Jarnot, and Barbara Guest, and critical work by Agamben, Baudelaire, Adorno, and Deleuze and Guatarri.
CRWR 12116 | Reading as a Writer: Poetic Series and Sequences
This course is for students interested in poems that stretch beyond the 1-2 page lyric, or who want to eventually write poem sequences or series. We begin with writings, primarily by poets, about seriality and sequentiality. We will attempt to articulate the differences between these modes and their areas of overlap. Then we turn to modern and contemporary poets who work in long poetic form – Gertrude Stein, Muriel Rukeyser, George Oppen, Bernadette Mayer, Clark Coolidge, Alice Notley, and others. What modes of attention are sustained in the reading and writing of long poems? What is the temporality of a poetry sequence? We will examine archival material to elucidate various processes of composition, and through attentive reading and research, uncover practices and techniques that we can then employ in our own work.
CRWR 13007 / 33007 | Intermediate Poetry Workshop: Poetic Sequences
“My plan is / these little boxes / make sequences…” writes Robert Creeley in his book-length poetic sequence Pieces. Multiple short poems gathered into a single yet open-ended structure—this way of working has been remarkably productive for 20th- and 21st-century poets (though we might trace its history back as far as Renaissance sonneteers). In this course, you will experiment with ways of writing, accruing, counting, dispersing, shuffling, stacking, and otherwise arranging your own “little boxes.” We’ll read and discuss a range of modern and contemporary poetic sequences by William Carlos Williams, Lorine Niedecker, George Oppen, Robert Creeley, Fanny Howe, Ed Roberson, Michael O’Brien, Harryette Mullen, and George Albon, paying particular attention to matters of craft: How are syllables, words, lines, and stanzas effectively arranged within a short poem? How are short poems effectively arranged in relation to one another? What’s the relation of parts to wholes in a poem or a sequence? What roles might repetition, variation, and echo play? We’ll also think about ways the poets we study and we ourselves can use the poetic sequence as an instrument of attention: How might writing “in pieces” help us notice and name things, events, feelings, and ideas that otherwise remain unnoticed or inarticulate? How might sequential composition open our writing to improvisation, unpredictability, and generative bewilderment?
CRWR 23109 / 43109 | Advanced Poetry Writing: Orphic Voices
The myth of Orpheus covers impressive range: the greatest poet and musician of the mythical age, he married Eurydice after voyaging with the Argonauts, his song capable of taming wild nature, drawing listening animals into his aura, only to have his beloved slain by a serpent’s bite. From there, he charmed his way into the underworld with his lyrics, gaining permission to bring Eurydice back to the world on the condition he not look back, one that he couldn’t abide. In his grief, he sang mournful chants and praised Apollo above all, inspiring the wrath of Dionysus, who compelled his Maenads to thrash him to pieces. The legend concludes with Orpheus’ head bobbing down the Hebrus River, to wash finally to a cave on Lesbos, where it prophesied for ages until quieted by a command from Apollo. But was Orpheus’ voice ever truly silenced? There are four kinds of Orphic poets: the poet who sings plaintive songs of love; the poet who sings the glories of nature; the poet who, having visited the underworld, reveals its mysteries; and the poet-prophet. In this advanced poetry workshop, we will examine the works of five modern poets who exemplify one or more of these traits: Mina Loy (love and mysteries); Lorine Niedecker (nature); Ronald Johnson (nature, mysteries, prophecy); and Rainer Maria Rilke and Robert Duncan (all four traits). In addition to modeling their work after these poets, students will fashion their own version of the Orpheus myth.