English 131

American Poetry

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2020 O'Brien, Geoffrey G.
This course will be taught asynchronously.


This survey of U.S. poetries will begin with 17th- and 18th-century poems by two women, Anne Bradstreet and Phyllis Wheatley, move to another (19th-century) pairing in Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, and then touch down in expatriate and stateside modernisms, the Harlem Renaissance, the New York School, and Language Poetry, on our way to the contemporary. Rather than cover all major figures briefly, we'll spend extended time with the work of a few: poets considered will include Paul Dunbar, Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot, Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, Lyn Hejinian, Claudia Rankine, and Layli Longsoldier. Along the way we'll consider renovations and dissipations of conventional form and meter, the task and materials of the long poem, seriality, citationality, who and what counts as a poetic subject, and how U.S. poetries have imagined community over and against their actual Americas.

Although its original meeting time of TTh 3:30-5 will still appear on Cal Central and the Berkeley Academic Guide (just to indicate the final exam group it belongs to), this class will be conducted totally asynchronously, so there will be no time conflicts with other courses. 

All readings will be drawn from a Course Reader.

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