This module is running in 2020/2021.
Module Credits: 30
Non-Finalists: 1 x 3,000 word essay + 1 x 4,000 word essay
Finalists: 1 x 3,000 word essay + 1 x 5,000 word essay
This survey module on American poetry will not be strictly delimited by historical period so as to remain supple and open to developments in the field, but will always feature a large 20th-century component. While “American” should be understand hemispherically, and works from beyond the United States might be included in certain iterations, the main focus will be on the United States. Intellectually it will be organised around three major concerns:
- Modernity. This refers to the prevalent view in US. cultural self-theorisation that the U.S. is in some ways on the advance-guard of history, for example, as an early democracy, as a nation founded on a cultural identity that cannot be traced in linear fashion to antiquity, as a state based on the principle of ethnic and cultural diversity, and as the bleeding edge of capitalist metamporphoses and liberalism.
- “Rupture” refers to discourses of American exceptionalism, often as derived from the considerations mentioned in point (1) above, but also to the long U.S. history of cultural opposition and critique of those very discourses. It is in this light that we can examine the specific characteristics of U.S. avant-gardes, or transnational avant-gardes with strong links to the U.S.
- Violence. Here, we will examine the particular histories of violence that are characteristic to U.S. history—both those mystified and mythified as foundationally and archetypally “American,” and those repressed and erased. Obvious examples include, slavery and segregation, the genocide of indigenous peoples, anti-immigrant and nativist violence, economic violence, and legal and symbolic violence against women, gays, queers, trans and other forms of sexual dissidence.
Pathway information (for students who enrolled on their course prior to 2019/20)
Intermediate Year students: 2 x 4,000 word essay or 1 x 4,000 word essay + 1 2-hour exam (year specific)
Final Year students: 2 x 5,000 word essay or 1 x 5,000 word essay + 1 2-hour exam (year specific)
Objectives and outcomes