English 100

Junior Seminar: The End of the Poem


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
4 Fall 2005 O'Brien, Geoffrey G.
O'Brien, Geoffrey
MW 4-5:30 106 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

All primary and secondary readings will be drawn from a Course Reader, which will include critical essays by Giorgio Agamben, Timothy Bahti, Lyn Hejinian, G.E. Lessing, I.A. Richards, Barbara Herrnstein Smith, and John Emil Vincent, among others, and poems by William Shakespeare, John Donne, George Herbert, John Milton, Christopher Smart, John Keats, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens, Gertrude Stein, W.C. Williams, Jean Toomer, Louis Zukofsky, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, John Ashbery, Michael Palmer, Harryette Mullen, Lisa Jarnot, Juliana Spahr, and Mark McMorris.

Description

"This class addresses an inevitable feature of all poems, the last line: the position from which the poem's entire form is, for the first time, apprehended. This focus will require attention to all the formal and thematic principles by which a poem generates itself, deferring then delivering (or thwarting) the sense of an ending. In addition to the question I.A. Richards poses in his essay ""How Does a Poem Know When It is Finished?"" we'll ask some versions of the following: Can a poem end without ""finishing""? What comes after the last line of the poem? Why do so many poems close by recalling their beginnings? How have closural strategies in English poetry changed over time? We'll pair theoretical accounts of closure with test-cases from across the history of poetry in English, acquiring along the way some facility with its prosodies, its use of figures from classical rhetoric (especially figures of repetition), and its major and minor formal environments. "


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