Twentieth Century American Poetry

Title of the course: Twentieth Century American Poetry
Lecturer: prof.dr. Stipe Grgas
Language: English
Duration: 4th or 6th semester
Status: elective course
Teaching mode: 1 hour lecturing, 2 hours of seminar work weekly
Preconditions for enrollment: „Introduction to the Study of English Literature “ I and II

Contents of the course: The course offers a description, a reading and an interpretation of American poetry published from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day. The departure point for the course is the assumption that during the last couple of decades poetry has been marginalized in philological studies. The course will argue for the relevance of this archive. The focus will be on the specificity of the art of poetry, on the transformations undergone by poetry within the system of literature but also in the broader cultural environment. The diachronic reading of American poets will seek out their differentiating features but will also point to what these poets share with poetry writing in other literary and cultural contexts. The basic methodological premise of the course is that poetry develops according to its own immanent laws but that it also mirrors the challenges of of the world outside of literature. Because of the immense quantity of primary material the course will make a selection from the extant material and choose not only representative poets but representative texts by the chosen writers. The course proposes to continually rely on the accessibility on the Internet of not only texts but of recorded readings of poems.

Aim of the course: The students will acquaint themselves with a very important segment of twentieth century poetry. The aim of the course is to make the students aware of a marginalized literary genre, train them how to approach it and convince them of the multifaceted function and importance of the poetic word.

Student obligation: Fulfill the obligations stipulated by the model of continuous evaluation. During the semester the students must write a number of short papers on assigned texts while they have to hand in a longer seminar paper in the next to last session. The last session is reserved for the written exam.

Division of the course by weeks:
1. On poetry in general
2. Predecessors (Dickinson/Whitman)
3. Modernists abroad: Ezra Pound i T.S. Eliot
4. Modernists at home: Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams
5. Modernists at home: Hart Crane, William Carlos Williams, Hart Crane, Louis Zukofsky
6. Gendered Voices: Marianne Moore, H.D., Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath
7. Confessional Poetry: John Berryman, Robert Lowell, Theodore Roethke
8. Beat poets: Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Charles Bukowski
9. Black Mountain Poets: Charles Olson, Robert Creeley
10. Deep Image Poetry: Robert Bly, Mark Strand
11. New York School: John Ashberry, Frank O’Hara
12. 1970s: Gwendolyn Brooks, Nikki Giovanni
13. Language Poetry: Bob Perelman, Charles Bernstein
14. Final discussion, written exam

Obligatory texts: A selection of a poem or a number of poems from the opus of the poets listed above.

Secondary literature: Studies dealing with poetry in general, particularly those dealing with modern poetry. Manifestos written by some of the poets. Finally, the many books dealing with American poetry as well as the case book studies of individual works and writers.