English 127

Modern Poetry

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2010 Ronda, Margaret
Ronda, Margaret
TTh 2-3:30 60 Evans

Other Readings and Media

Ramazani, J.: Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Vol. 1; Oppen, G.: New Collected Poems; Niedecker, L.: Collected Works; Zukofsky, L.: Selected Poems


This course will be devoted to studying the work of a series of major figures in modern poetry and poetics. Each of these poets—Pound, Eliot, Stein, Stevens, Loy, Moore, H.D., Williams, Hughes, Brown, Zukofsky, Niedecker, Oppen—undertakes ambitious experiments that expand the formal and perceptual bounds of poetry. We will approach these figures primarily via close readings, but we will also read them in connection with the larger artistic movements of this extraordinarily fertile era, and with reference to key aesthetic theories. Through these readings, this course will explore modern poetry’s complex inheritances: its vexed relation to Romantic and Symbolist poetics; its renewal of other poetic traditions, from Pound’s “poem containing history” through ideogram and collaged quotation to Zukofsky’s Marxist reanimation of the sestina form; and its ties to visual and musical cultures. At the same time, we will consider how and why these poets “make it new,” in Pound’s phrase, and what their methods disclose about the transactions between poetic practice and social life. Understanding how this work grapples with the period’s central concerns—urbanization, the entrenchment of commodity capitalism, the barbarisms of war, fascism, and racial oppression, and the emergent modes of cognition arising from technological innovation and new media forms—will be a primary objective. We will also investigate the animating importance of “difficulty” to modern poetry, keeping in mind Eliot’s contention that “poets in our civilization, as it exists at present, must be difficult.”
Coursework will include weekly writing assignments; two longer essays; a midterm and a final exam.

Back to Semester List