Comp Lit 62: Twentieth Century Poetry
Note that we will concentrate on poems from Europe (including the UK) and Latin America in the first half of the century, though a good deal of postwar poetry will be included. Due to time constraints, we not be considering the wealth of 20th century poetry from Asia, or from Australia and New Zealand, or the poetry of analphabetic (tribal/oral) cultures as it emerged in the 20th century.
The "reading workshop" is less concerned with analysis or explanation of individual poems than with finding ways to intensify the experience of poetry, of the poetic, through a consideration of how the different styles and structures and forms of contemporary poetry can affect the way we see and understand the world. No previous experience with poetry is necessary. More important is a willingness to consider the implausible, to try out alternative ways of thinking, to listen to the way language sounds before trying to figure out what it means, to lose yourself in a flurry of syllables and regain your bearings in dimensions otherwise imagined as out-of-reach.
The basic requirement for the class is a weekly response to the assigned
readings - usually a notebook entry, imitation, or experiment.
These responses are open-ended and can be in whatever form you choose
- they are meant to encourage interaction with the poems and also serve
as a record of your reading. The experiments are based on list of exercises (something like laboratory work!) aimed
at getting inside the styles of the various poets studied. The responses
and experiments will form the basis of workshop discussions.
Translation/imitation. Imitation and translation are part of the wreading exercises, but in the cases of the non-English language poetry, my preference is for you to attempt an translation of any of the poems if you know the original language or to try a homophonic translation if you have the text of the original poem.
Note: If you would like a quick survey of the related visual art for Futurism, Dadaism, Expressionism, Surrealism, etc., do go to the modern collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and to the Barnes Foundation museum, as well as, in New York, the Met and MoMA. This set of slides is a good on-line intro, as is the Modern Art Timeline.
A signal event for modernist art in America was the 1913
Armory show in New York.
Poetry & Poetry Resources on the Web
These resources are available throught the library e-resources page. Because the library changes the based URL for these, you may need to go back to the e-resources page to get the link:
Twentieth-Century American Poetry, a part of LION but with its own web page.
Gale Literature Resource Center is a very useful collection of biograpical sketches or most of the poets covered in this course. While I have linked author names to either EPC or Wiki pages, which are publically available, DLB often offers extensive reviews and commentary not available to the public. Best way to get started is to go to the basic search and choose "person".
Poetry at Penn and in Philadelphia
This class complements English 88 and 288, as well as 262.