English R1A

American Elegy

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
10 Fall 2009 Auclair, Tracy
MW 4-5:30 222 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

A course reader of elegies; Max Cavitch, American Elegy: The Poetry of Mourning from the Puritans to Whitman; Diana Hacker, Rules for Writers; Jeffrey A. Hammond, The American Puritan Elegy: A Literary and Cultural Study; Mary Louise Kete, Sentimental Collaborations: Mourning and Middle-Class Identity in Nineteenth-Century America; Gary Laderman, The Sacred Remains: American Attitudes Toward Death, 1799-1883; Jahan Ramazani, Poetry of Mourning: The Modern Elegy from Hardy to Heaney; Melissa F. Zeiger. Beyond Consolation: Death, Sexuality, and the Changing Shapes of Elegy


In this class, we will study the American elegy, following its development from the 17th century to the present. Reading poems in conjunction with essays in literary criticism and cultural history, we will ask the following question: How did elegiac conventions both reflect and create the conceptual meaning and psychological experience of death and grief in America? Students will pursue this line of inquiry while learning how to write clearly, read critically, and argue persuasively. Emphasizing the development of these skills, this course will teach students how to evaluate authors’ theses, formulate their own positions, and express them in clear sentences, paragraphs, and essays. Over the course of the semester, students will produce approximately 32 pages of writing. This writing will be broken down into three essays which will increase in length as the term progresses.

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