What makes a poem modern or a poet a modernist? The history of modern poetry, like that of any literary period, is a story that has as much to do with the reception of poems as with their production. We maintain a particular story of modern poetry not only by reading and including poets and poems in a literary canon but also by misreading and excluding them, often in the service of larger narratives about what constitutes the modern, modernism, or even good or bad poetry. This course starts with poems and forms that have become “iconic,” not merely canonical in the usual sense but that enjoy a special cultural sanction and influence. Along with these poems, we will read the volumes in which they were originally collected in our efforts to read beyond iconic poems to explore modern poetry with a more local specificity. We will also read a variety of writing about literary history and aesthetics by the aestheticians themselves. Along the way, we will hone our poetry reading skills, enjoy a wide range of wonderful poetic expression, and try to figure out just how Modern Poetry became such a big deal in the first place. Texts include Robert Frost’s Mountain Interval, H.D.’s Sea Garden, T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, Edna St. Vincent Millay’s The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems, Sterling Brown’s Southern Road, and W. H. Auden’s Another Time.
Literature, 1789 to the present courses focus on literary work produced over more than two centuries -- from the period of British romanticism and the early republic of the United States up to now -- in order to foster familiarity with key works in British and American literary history. Literary history illustrates how literary works reflect, address, and resist the social and political environments in which they are produced as well as other works that have preceded them.
English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts. The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.