English 203

Graduate Readings: Poetics and Theories of Poetry

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Fall 2009 Falci, Eric
Falci, Eric
Tues. 3:30-6:30 224 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

All readings will be contained in a course reader or available electronically, and probably will include writings by Aristotle, Horace, Dante, Sidney, Puttenham, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Mill, Keats, Arnold, Mallarmé, Hopkins, Yeats, Eliot, Pound, Stein, Stevens, Moore, Olson, Mandelstam, Empson, Wimsatt and Beardsley, Brooks, Valéry, Benjamin, Adorno, de Man, Culler, Riffaterre, Lacoue-Labarthe, Celan, Derrida, Freud, Jakobson, Glissant, Susan Stewart, Virginia Jackson, Yopie Prins, Lyn Hejinian, Charles Altieri, Marjorie Perloff, Robert Kaufman, Giorgio Agamben, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Jerome McGann, and N. Katherine Hayles, among others.


This course will attempt to provide a general introduction to poetics, to sketch a more detailed history of the ways in which poetry has been theorized since the nineteenth century, and to think through some of the more recent trends in scholarship on poetry and lyric theory. We will review some of the formative statements on poetry in the western canon, proceed quickly into the poetics of the romantics, and then move into the twentieth century. We will reconsider the projects of the New Critics alongside of other types of formalist scholarship, the place of poetry within structuralism and deconstruction, and the importance of lyric poetry in several varieties of Marxist aesthetics and psychoanalytic theories. As we come to more recent writings, we’ll investigate poetry’s investments in matters of perception, subjectivity, cognition, technology, ecology, and history, and test out analogues with other media. We will pay close attention to the shapes (formal, spatial, metrical, acoustic, generic) and textures (sonic, graphic, etymological, figural, rhythmic) of specific poems, some of which will be dictated by the theoretical readings, but many of which we will determine as a group at the start of the semester. My hope is that the class will be useful to people who “don’t do poetry” but who want to have a grounding in its terms and tenets as they prepare for orals and teaching, as well as for people who “do poetry” in one way or another and want to get a capacious map of a broad field as they prepare for more specialized research. There will be two conference-length papers (8-10 pages) and one oral presentation in the form of a review/critique of a recent book on poetry and/or poetics.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Back to Semester List