Winter 2016

Winter 2016 Courses

English Language and Literature

Introduction to Poetry (ENGL 10400)

This course involves intensive readings in both contemporary and traditional poetry. Early on, the course emphasizes various aspects of poetic craft and technique, setting terminology and providing extensive experience in verbal analysis. Later, emphasis is on contextual issues: referentiality, philosophical and ideological assumptions, and historical considerations.

Instructor: Lisa Ruddick

Day and Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:30-2:50 pm, Discussion sections on Friday afternoons


Romantic Literature and the World (ENGL 19203)

In this course we will approach British Romantic literary culture as a set of engagements within the context of global imperial expansion that it reflects in ways that are sometimes overt, and other times implicit. We will begin with Scottish Enlightenment ideas about cosmopolitanism and “world citizenship,” and trace the development, continuance, and sometimes resistance to these ideas in writing about the Atlantic slave trade, domestic and overseas colonial relations, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, travel and tourism, and the Ottoman Empire written by authors including Phillis Wheatley, Hannah More, Anna Barbauld, Edmund Burke, Olaudah Equiano, Helen Maria Williams, William Blake, Charlotte Smith, S. T. Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Maria Edgeworth, Lord Byron, P. B. Shelley, Mary Shelley, John Keats, Letitia Landon, and Thomas de Quincey.

Instructor: Alexis Chema

Day and Time: Mondays and Wednesdays 1:30-2:50 pm


Modernist Poetry: Yeats, Eliot, Pound (ENGL 26708)

This course tackles three major modernist poets through close reading and contextual analysis. We will be reading Eliot's The Waste Land and Four Quartets, Pound's "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley" and portions of The Cantos, and Yeats's later poems, focusing on those collected in his book The Tower. Assignments will consist of short papers concentrating on individual poems, along with Chalk posts and joint class presentations.

Instructor: Maud Ellmann

Day and Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-4:20 pm


Poetry of the Americas (ENGL 28613)

This course investigates the long poem or “post-epic” in 20th- and 21st-century North and Latin America. As we test the limits of the term post-epic, we will consider whether it may be applied equally to the heroic tale and the open field poem. How do poets interpret the idea of “the Americas” as lands, nations, and sources of identity in these works, and in what tangled ways do their poetics develop through dialogue across linguistic and geographical distances? Authors may include Pablo Neruda, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, Vicente Huidobro, Aimé Césaire, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Anne Carson, Lisa Robertson, M. NourbeSe Philip, Urayoán Noel, and Jennifer Tamayo.

Instructor: Rachel Galvin

Day and Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:30-11:50 am


Breathing Matters: Poetics and Politics of Air (ENGL 25110 / 35110)

The participants in this collaboratively led teaching laboratory will be asked to re-examine the notion of “inspiration” in its aesthetic and historical senses, revisiting textual and arts practices based on tropes of channeling, dreamwork, revelation and possession as well as current practices based on embodied, performative and eco-conscious notions of circulation, interconnection, transformation and receptivity. We will explore the interdependence of breathing in and breathing out as a guide to art methods built on conscious mind-body traditions, on poetics of critical voicing and unvoicing, and on signal circuitry’s reception, translation, and transmission of im/pulses and data. We will delve into the workings of air as an animating element that bridges and binds individuals to both internal and external forces. We will explore the long history of engagement with this element as it has been used to signify and enhance the circulation and interception of signs, dreams, and voices in literature, performance, audiovisual and electronic media, sculptural and architectural sites. We will examine the modern and contemporary politicization of air as a commons, and will apply forensic research methods and technologies to the analysis and critique of industrial and post-industrial landscapes. The imagination of air itself becomes relevant to thinking about utopian or dystopian collectivities. Students will have the chance to respond to each set of materials with their own collaboratively produced works, which will be offered up for group discussion. We welcome students from the literary and visual arts, performance studies, film and media studies, as well as those with an interest in translation, linguistics, sociology, and anthropology. Sporadic excursions and film screenings will form part of the course, and students should be prepared to make time for them. This course is sponsored by a Mellon Collaborative Fellowship for Arts Practice and Scholarship at the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry. For more information about the course and the instructors, please visit

Instructors: Jennifer Scappettone; Caroline Bergvall

Day and Time: Wednesdays 3:00-6:00 pm


MAPH Poetics Seminar (ENGL 34800)

In this course, we will study poetry “in the abstract.” We will study various efforts on the part of philosophers, literary critics, and poets themselves to formulate theories of poetic discourse. We will examine a range of historical attempts to conceptualize poetry as a particular kind of language practice, from Aristotle to Adorno and beyond. But we will also question the very project of thinking about “poetics” as opposed to “poetry” or “poems.” Is it possible to theorize the art form without doing violence to the particularity—and peculiarity—of individual poems themselves?

Instructor: Srikanth Reddy

Day and Time: Thursdays 1:30-4:20 pm


Frank O’Hara & Friends (ENGL 34801)

This class will focus on the earlier poetry of Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Barbara Guest and James Schuyler, and position it in the artistic milieu of New York City in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Instructor: John Wilkinson

Day and Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-4:20 pm


Lyric Forms from Blake to Hardy (ENGL 42417)

This course will study forms of lyric poetry in the poetic practices and the prose reflections of nineteenth-century British poets. Setting aside twentieth century, rather restrictive understandings of lyric, we will attempt to recover the more diverse understandings of lyric's forms, effects, and possibilities with which poets from the late eighteenth to the end of the nineteenth century worked, with particular interest in lyric as a social form, as a sounded performance, and as a visual (both art and print-mediated) experience. Using selected romantic poems as a point of departure (Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience and Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, together with Keats’s odes and adaptations of romance and a few of Shelley’s odes), we will follow such forms as the ode, the ballad, the song, and the sonnet through the rest of the century, looking also at Victorian inventions or adaptations of the idyl, the sestina, the rondeau, the ballade, and various forms of dramatic lyric, particularly the dramatic monologue. Victorian poets may include Emily Brontë, Tennyson, Robert Browning, Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti, William Morris, Swinburne, Hopkins, and Hardy. We will also consider key essays, short fictions, or reviews (by Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Arthur Hallam, J. S. Mill, Browning, DG Rossetti, Hopkins, Swinburne), and modern reflections on the nature of lyric (and of rhyme and meter), particularly from the 1970s-80s, and again from c. 2000 - attempting both to come to a better historical understanding of the term and to attend to shifts in the understanding of lyric, particularly as these have been of interest to modern and contemporary poets.

Instructor: Elizabeth Helsinger

Day and Time: Mondays and Wednesdays 1:30-2:50 pm


Cognitive Approaches to Modernism (ENGL 61410)

The literary styles defined by the term high modernism are designed to put enormous pressure on the cognitive capacities of readers, a fact that mind-centered narrative theory has newly confirmed. Why did this taste for difficult texts emerge in the early twentieth century, for an elite group of readers? What kinds of aesthetic pleasure and psychological insight are enabled by modernist poetic and narrative styles? And what are the differences between traditional formalism and current formal analysis informed by cognitive neuroscience and cognitive linguistics? In this course, we will explore these questions by reading intensively in current scholarship on twentieth-century poetry and fiction, with a special focus on cognitive studies. We also will read a number of theoretical texts by neuroscientists, cognitive linguists, and contemporary psychoanalysts and attachment theorists who are absorbing the findings of cognitive science into their own theoretical domains. The literary-critical methods to be considered include formalist narratology, cognitive narrative theory, and cognitive linguistic approaches to poetry. Throughout the term, we will place the theoretical readings alongside short modernist literary texts, by way of inquiring into the potential literary-critical consequences of the theories. We will also have a cornerstone fictional text, Mrs. Dalloway.

Instructor: Lisa Ruddick

Day and Time: Tuesdays 9:00-11:50 am


Romance Languages and Literatures

Golden Age Poetry. Theory and Practice of Lyric Reading (SPAN 21310/31310)

In this course we will read classic Spanish poems of the Golden Age from different methodological and theoretical paradigms. Each class session will revolve around one or a few poems in order to allow time for in-depth discussion and analysis, and we will systematically pair these lyric texts with influential critical readings of them. On the one hand, this will provide students with an introduction to the main poetic genres, traditions, periods, and authors of the Spanish Golden Age in their historical context. On the other, we will critically examine a varied array of reading strategies and interpretive paradigms, including structuralism and post-structuralism, philology and textual criticism, Marxism, feminist criticism, gender studies, New Historicism, and emerging scholarship in “lyric theory.” Taught in Spanish.

Instructor: Miguel Martínez

Day and Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00-1:20 pm


La Poésie lyrique du 19ème siècle (FREN 26510)

Dans ce cours nous examinerons la suite de révolutions poétiques en France pendant le 19ème siècle, à travers la lecture de quelques-uns des plus grands poètes de la littérature française. En commençant avec le Romantisme lyrique de Lamartine, Hugo, et Desbordes-Valmore, nous étudierons la naissance de formes nouvelles (le poème en prose, le vers libre) et la survie des cadences anciennes dans l’œuvre de Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Verlaine, Rimbaud, et Apollinaire. PQ: FREN 20500 plus one other literature course taught in French.

Instructor: Rosanna Warren

Day and Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00-1:20 pm


Poetic Postures of the 20th Century (ITAL 22560) 

Modern poetry begins with a crisis—the loss of the poet’s authority. What are the cultural and historical factors that determine this loss of authority? And what are the poets’ reactions to this crisis? The variety of possible attitudes is wide and ranges between two extremes: the shame for the poetic gesture and the pride of reaffirming its importance. This survey course explores chronologically how these reactions are embodied by poetic postures that range from the poet as idol (D’Annunzio) to the poet who is ashamed of his own verses (Gozzano), from the playful clown (Palazzeschi) to the sleepwalker (Sbarbaro). Throughout this course, we will see how these postures can expand into literary movements, but we will also pay attention to how postures can be textualized, manifesting themselves in specific stylistic elements, which we will analyze with careful close readings. Taught in Italian.

Instructor: Maria Anna Mariani

Day and Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:30-2:50 pm


Creative Writing Workshops in Poetry

Fundamentals of Poetry (CRWR 10305/30305)

This course addresses a range of techniques for writing poetry, making use of various compelling models drawn primarily from international modernisms on which to base our own writing. (Our textbook is Poems for the Millennium, edited by Rothenberg & Joris.) In this sense, the course will constitute an apprenticeship to modern poetry. We will consider the breadth of approaches currently available to poets, as well as the value of reading as a means of developing an understanding of how to write poetry. Each week students will bring poems for discussion, developing a portfolio of revised work by the quarter’s end. Additionally, students will keep detailed notebooks, as well as developing critical skills for understanding poetry in the form of two short essays.

Instructor: Peter O'Leary

Day and Time: Tuesdays 1:30-4:20 pm

Special Topics in Poetry: Ekphrastic Poetry (CRWR 13012/33012)

Ekphrasis was originally a Greek term meaning a highly detailed description of an object that offered a fully realized experience of that object, embodying not only its physical qualities but also its emotional impact and other intangible qualities. In modern times that concept has been reinterpreted in artistic terms: as a written form of art that responds to a visual form of art. For the purposes of our class, we will take on an expansive definition of ekphrastic poetry, studying and generating poetry that responds to any non-literary medium. We will begin by considering poems by John Keats, W.H. Auden, Anne Sexton, and many others that respond to visual art, but then we will also consider poems that respond to other artistic media, such as music, movies, dance, etc. We will also read critical work, tracing broadly the various ways that poets have interpreted the ekphrastic relationship between poem and inspiration. How does the extra-textual origin of these poems influence them? How does it affect their form and diction? How does it affect the reader’s experience to have or lack access to the original inspiration? In this hands-on class, students will complete a writing exercise each week, accompanied by trips to the Art Institute of Chicago and to other museums, galleries, and performances. Our lab section will be used approximately bi-weekly to allow for such excursions. 

Instructor: Ariana Nash

Day and Time: Thursdays, 1:30-4:20 pm; Lab Thursdays 4:30-5:50 pm


Advanced Poetry Workshop (CRWR 23100/43100)

The focus of this advanced poetry course is two-fold: 1) workshopping students’ original work, and 2) reading a range of contemporary poetry. Over the quarter we will review craft topics such as rhythm, form, imagery, and voice, and we will investigate various approaches to the writing process. In this spirit, local and visiting poets will be invited to class to discuss their writing processes, giving students a chance to dialogue with practicing poets. Readings will include peers' work, recent books by contemporary poets, and supplementary poems and essays on craft. Along with contributing weekly poems to workshop, students will be expected to participate in in-class interview sessions with visiting writers, write a brief essay on process or craft, and attend at least one Creative Writing event. To be considered for the workshop, students should submit 3-5 original poems.

Instructor: Nate Hoks

Day and Time: Wednesdays, 1:30–4:20 pm


Thesis Development/Major Projects in Poetry (CRWR 29300/49300)

This course is an advanced seminar intended primarily for students writing a Creative BA or MA thesis, as well as Creative Writing Minors completing the portfolio. Because it is a thesis seminar, the course will focus on various ways of organizing larger poetic “projects.” We will consider the poetic sequence, the chapbook, and the poetry collection as ways of extending the practice of poetry beyond the individual lyric text. We will also problematize the notion of broad poetic “projects,” considering the consequences of imposing a predetermined conceptual framework on the elusive, spontaneous, and subversive act of lyric writing. Because this class is designed as a poetry workshop, your fellow students’ work will be the primary text over the course of the quarter.

Instructor: Srikanth Reddy

Day and Time: Tuesdays, 1:30–4:20 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.