English R1B

Reading and Composition: Approaches to 21st Century Poetry

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
20 Spring 2007 Charles Legere
TTh 3:30-5 223 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"The Weather, Lisa Robertson (New Star Books, 2001);

Don?t Let Me Be Lonely, Claudia Rankine (Graywolf Press, 2004);

Somebody Blew Up America, Amiri Baraka (House of Nehesi, 2003);

Deer Head Nation, K. Silem Mohammed (Tougher Disguises, 2003);

My Way, Charles Bernstein (U of Chicago, 1999); and a reader of poems and essays. "


"There are several varieties of contemporary poetry: Lyric, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, Post-Lang, ?mainstream?, slam, and flarf poets, as well as others who can?t or won?t be categorized. Major publishers, university presses, and dozens of small presses publish hundreds of poetry books every year. Nevertheless, you rarely ? if ever ? read about contemporary poetry in the paper, see it shelved in the bookstore, or learn it about it in the high school or college classroom. That may well be because it?s hard to know how to approach recent poetry, and critical methods like New Criticism, Deconstruction, and New Historicism offer conflicting models of interpretation.

In this course, we?ll put literary criticism and theory to the test by practicing it and applying it to works of recently published poetry. We?ll ask about contemporary poetry?s function, purpose, and responsibilities ? whether it?s any good, and whether it does any good. You?ll do a close reading of a poem, write your own evaluation of a work of criticism, and present your interpretation of a book of poetry to the class. Finally, you?ll research and write about a contemporary poet of your own choosing. This course will help you perfect your arguments by formulating and re-formulating critical questions and thesis statements; it will also help you learn the methods and protocols of literary research. "

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