English 165

Special Topics: Hardly Strictly Lyric Poems

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Fall 2018 Hanson, Kristin
TTh 3:30-5 106 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Our primary texts will be CDs of The Flatlanders, Butch Hancock, Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Townes van Zandt, Guy Clark and others.  

A few brief secondary readings wlll be available as a course reader.  


Historically and etymologically, lyric poetry was sung to the accompaniment of a lyre.  Most lyric poetry studied as English literature today, however, reflecting the term "literature"'s own history and etymology, is related to the genre in ways other than by being sung.  The aim of this course is to study some lyric poetry in its traditional form of song. 

We will focus, however, not on the old lyric poetry that gave the genre its name, but on contemporary lyrics in a flourishing tradition whose live performances we have opportunities to hear locally:  songs of a set of (mostly West) Texans who perform regularly at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival held in Golden Gate Park in October, as well as songs that influenced them.  We will consider the songs' lyrics' poetic forms, including their use of rhyme, alliteration, meter and syntactic parallelism; their imagery; differences between lyric and narrative songs; their cultural origins, including their bluegrass, blues and tejana influences; and some differences between sung and unsung poetry.  

The course will include attendance at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival and possibly other outings as well.

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