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EN992 Poetry and Music

This module is no longer available.


This module seeks to bring together thinking about ‘poetry’ and ‘music’ from the fields of literary studies, musicology and philosophy in order to invite students to explore questions of form, creativity and the listening experience. The module suggests that the relationship between form and sound enables new ways of assessing what we mean by ‘creativity’ through listening and takes seriously the idea that poetry began as song, and that song, like all music, was originally a form of magic. As Victor Zuckerkandl writes in Man the Musician (1973): ‘music [is] the form in which magic survives down to our day ... the affinity between music and magic is rooted in their very nature ... in both, man’s sense of being at one with the world outweighs his sense of being distinct from it: what links man to man, man to thing, and thing to thing outweighs what separates them.’ We develop the idea of music as strange, magical, fantastic and spiritual through a series of examples, including the ballad tradition; hymns; love songs; the Beats; rhythm and blues; the philosophy of music; folk music; ‘silence’; and karaoke.


Students on the MA in Writing must submit a portfolio of 70% creative work and 30% essay; students on the MA in English Literature, World Literatures, Philosophy and Literature or Pan-Romanticisms may choose to submit a portfolio of 40% creative work and 60% essay; or a 100% essay.