English R1B

Reading and Composition: The New American Poetry

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
7 Fall 2020 Dunsker, Leo
MWF 12-1

Book List

Allen, Donald (ed.): The New American Poetry 1945–1960

Other Readings and Media

A course reader containing the work of poets such as Bob Kaufman, Alice Notley, Joanne Kyger, and Stephen Jonas, along with secondary and critical work, will be available for purchase. 


When accepting the National Book Award in 1960 for his poetry collection Life Studies, the poet Robert Lowell characterized U.S. poetry as a house divided between two camps: “the raw” and “the cooked.” This course will focus on what Lowell in 1960 called “the raw,” as represented by Donald Allen’s anthology The New American Poetry, 1945-1960, published that same year. This anthology introduced the work of a generation of young poets like Frank O'Hara, Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, and others, poets who would later be associated with such movements as the New York School, the Beat Generation, the San Francisco Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, and more. It was intended as an angry response to the homogeneity of poetry's writers and readers, and abandons the old familiar forms (e.g. the sonnet) for new and often explosive ones. Evidence of this work's continued prescience is inscribed everywhere in Berkeley itself, from the Berkeley Poetry Walk on Addison Street to the collections of manuscripts and entire libraries of small press materials housed in the Bancroft Library. The Berkeley Poetry Conference of 1965 was even hosted in Cal Hall, and a number of the poets included in the anthology were graduates of Berkeley themselves. The cultural afterlife of the work, though, is much more far-ranging, and we will also be thinking in this vein about what makes certain poetry, or certain poets, "iconic." In short, we'll be considering not only what makes a poem, but also what makes poetry as a social activity and a way of coming together, and about all the poetry that never makes it to the page.

This writing-intensive course is designed to improve students’ skills in both writing and thinking. Over the course of the semeser, students will write and revise two papers, the first analytic and the second based on individual research. Accordingly, students will be instructed in how to locate and engage with primary and secondary sources as well as in how to properly employ them so as to advance their own original claims.

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