English 131

American Poetry

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2015 O'Brien, Geoffrey G.
TTh 12:30-2 20 Barrows

Book List

Lerner, Ben: Mean Free Path; Rankine, Claudia: Don't Let Me Be Lonely


This survey of U.S. poetries will begin with Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson and then touch down in expatriate and stateside modernisms, the Harlem Renaissance, the New York School, and Language Poetry, on our way to the contemporary. Rather than cover all major figures briefly, we’ll spend extended time with the work of a few: poets considered will include Paul Dunbar, Gertrude Stein, T. S. Eliot, Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, Charles Olson, Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Lyn Hejinian, Claudia Rankine, and Ben Lerner. Along the way we’ll consider renovations and dissipations of conventional form and meter, the task and materials of the long poem, seriality, citationality, who and what counts as a poetic subject, and how U.S. poetries have imagined community over and against their actual Americas. In addition to the two required books, primary and secondary readings will be drawn from a Course Reader. There will be a take-home midterm, a term paper, and a final exam.


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