Following Jennifer Ashton’s Cambridge Companion to American Poetry Since 1945 (Cambridge UP, 2013), this seminar contemplates the following questions: How is the meaning of poetry constructed, in the aftermath of modernity and modernism? How do poems seek to represent persons, groups of people, or parts of society? How to determine the relationship between the materiality of poetic language and that of the reality depicted? Finally, what is the relationship between content and form in American poetry and its cultures and subcultures after, and thus since, the Second World War?
The participants of the seminar will come to understand the dynamics of Late Modernism and Objectivism (including Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Louis Zukofsky), of the poets of Black Mountain College and the Black Arts movement (incl. Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka), of the New York School, the Confessional Poets and the Beats (incl. Frank O’Hara, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Allen Ginsberg, as well as the song lyrics of Bob Dylan and other singer songwriters), ecopoetics, feminist poetics, and Language writing (incl. A. R. Ammons, Gary Snyder, Audre Lorde, Susan Howe, and Charles Bernstein), and the new(er) forms of poetic practice—spoken word and Hip Hop poetics (incl. Nas, Foxy Brown, Kanye West, and Kendrick Lamar)—that are contemporaneous with both late twentieth-century and early twenty-first century verse. Along the lines of the questions raised above, the seminar emphasizes in particular (1) the politics of the literary canon, from the perspective of poetry and poetics; (2) the relation between culture and subculture, as it pertains to poetic expression and lifestyle; and (3) the intricacies of linguistic and semiotic structures and dynamics, in and for poetic innovation. Aside from some additional poems, lyrics, and selected chapters from Ashton’s Cambridge Companion, which will be made available at the start of the semester, the following anthology needs to be purchased by the seminar’s participants:
- Rita Dove, ed., The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry