English 203

Graduate Readings: Lyric, Poetry, Poetics

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
4 Fall 2016 Falci, Eric
W 3-6 107 Mulford

Other Readings and Media

All readings will be available online and in a course reader.  Among a few other selections, we will most likely read texts by Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Mill, Keats, Arnold, Mallarmé, Pater, Hopkins, Yeats, Eliot, Moore, Pound, Stein, Olson, Richards, Empson, Wimsatt and Beardsley, Brooks, Valéry, Benjamin, Adorno, Abrams, de Man, Culler, Riffaterre, Lacoue-Labarthe, Celan, Derrida, Freud, Jakobson, Glissant, Barbara Johnson, Susan Stewart, Virginia Jackson, Lyn Hejinian, Charles Altieri, Marjorie Perloff, Robert Kaufman, Giorgio Agamben, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Denise Riley, Juliana Spahr, Caroline Bergvall, Claudia Rankine, Lisa Robertson, and Simon Jarvis.


This course will provide an introduction to poetics and theories of poetry, especially lyric poetry, since the early 19th century.  We will watch as conceptualizations of poetry, lyric, and verse torque and shift throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, beginning, roughly, with Wordsworth’s “Preface” to Lyrical Ballads and moving through the “New Lyric Studies” of our own critical moment.  We’ll look at a number of the key nineteenth- and twentieth-century statements on poetry and lyric as we 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 poetry in several varieties of Marxist aesthetics and psychoanalytic theories. As we come to more recent writings, we’ll investigate poetry in relation to matters of perception, subjectivity, cognition, technology, politics, ecology, and history. We will pay close attention to the shapes (formal, spatial, metrical, acoustic, generic) and textures (sonic, graphic, etymological, figural, rhythmic) of a small handful of poems, most of which will be dictated by our theoretical and critical readings, but some of which we’ll choose as a class at the start of the semester.  My hope is that the class is able to follow three interweaving tracks over the course of the semester: 1) the longer tradition of thinking about poetics since Wordsworth; 2) the course of contemporary scholarship on lyric and poetry over the past several decades; and 3) the routes taken by contemporary poets as they refashion lyric within their own practice.  All enrolled students will have the option of writing two conference-length papers (8-10 pages) or one article-length essay (20-25 pages).

This course satisfies the Group 4 or Group 5 requirement.

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