English 170

Literature and the Arts: Literature and Music

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2016 Falci, Eric
MWF 11-12 122 Wheeler

Book List

Mackey, Nathaniel: Splay Anthem; Morrison, Toni: Jazz


In this course, we will investigate the strangely vital links between literature and music. Beginning in the early 19th century, we’ll track a series of crossings, conjunctions, and fissures.  We’ll think about the place of music, and of ideas about music, within literary Romanticism.  We’ll watch what happens as classical music in the mid-nineteenth century becomes increasingly literary-minded, and consider how poets in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries experimented with notions of sound and rhythm.  We’ll pair a few of the key texts of literary modernism with touchstones of modern music.  We’ll trace the emergence of blues poetry and jazz poetry within the Harlem Renaissance and into the 1960s.  We’ll observe the basic categories of music and text dissolve and reform in the work of avant-garde writers and musicians throughout the twentieth century.  We’ll speculate about the literariness of folk and pop music and the poetics of hip hop.  Throughout, we’ll read and listen as poetry and narrative attempt to be like music, and songs and scores act like literature.  

The great majority of texts and music will be available in a course reader and/or on bCourses, and you will be responsible for writing two essays and taking a final exam.  

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