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EN2L1/EN3L1 Transatlantic Modernist Poetry - 15 CATS

Convenor - Dr Christina Britzolakis

This module is not running in 2021-2022.

This module is about modern poetry’s capacity to cross boundaries and borders, and to engage at once with both local and global worlds. It explores how the project of poetically ‘making it new’, especially, but not exclusively, between 1900 and 1939, captures the lived experiences and challenges of a shared global and transnational modernity.

We will trace the circuits of travel, dialogue and exchange, both real and imagined, amongst a range of U.S., British and European poetries; the various spaces and forms of sociability – urban, rural, domestic, artistic, collaborative - through which these writers engage their worlds; the links between local and global forms of imagining; and the ways in which they respond to various social, political and cultural forces, including: the rise of the modern city; technology; migration; imperialism; war; labour; feminism; racism; science; the rise of the mass media and popular culture. Poets studied may include W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Mina Loy, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Langston Hughes, Federico Garcia Lorca, and W.H. Auden.

Module will be taught by weekly 1.5 hour seminars.

Assessment details:

  • Intermediate students - 1 x 3500 word essay (TBC)
  • Finalist students - 1 x 4000 word essay (TBC)

2020/21 likely syllabus

Required course texts - suggested editions below, but any editions containing the listed poems are acceptable, except in the case of non-Anglophone, translated poems, where students are asked to use the listed editions.

Wk 1: Presentation of module

Wk 2: Modernism and modernity

  • Defining ‘modernity’, ‘modernization’ and ‘modernism’.
  • Watch Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times on YouTube, Part 1/9 and 2/9
  • Listen to opening bars of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring online
  • Look at Picasso’s ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ online

Winkiel, Laura. Modernism: The Basics, Chapter 1

Berman, Marshall. ‘Introduction: Modernity- Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’ in Berman, All That is Solid Melts into Air, 15-36.

Williams, Raymond. ‘Metropolitan Perceptions and the Emergence of Modernism’ in Peter Brooker, Modernism/ Postmodernism

Nicholls, Peter. ‘The poetics of modernism’ in Davis, Cambridge Companion to Modernist Poetry, 51-67

T.S. Eliot, ‘Preludes’; Stevens, ‘Anecdote of the Jar’; Loy, ‘O Hell’; Hughes, ‘Mother to Son’, Williams, ‘The red wheelbarrow’.

Wk 3: 

Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself (Dover, 2003): Sections 1-10.

Emily Dickinson, in McNeil, Helen (ed) Emily Dickinson (Everyman, 1997): Poems 258 ‘There’s a certain Slant of light’, 280 ‘I felt a Funeral, in my Brain’; 288 ‘I’m Nobody!’, 303 ‘The Soul selects her own Society’; 341 ‘After great pain’, 435 ‘Much Madness’, 465 ‘I heard a Fly buzz’; 520 ‘I started early -; 613 ‘They shut me up in Prose’; 670 ‘One need not be a Chamber –‘; 712 ‘Because I could not stop for death’; 754 ‘My Life had stood’, 1129 ‘Tell all the Truth’.

Charles Baudelaire, The Flowers of Evil, trans. James McGowan (OUP World’s Classics, 2008 - eb: ‘To the Reader’; from ‘Parisian Scenes’: ‘Landscape’; ‘The Sun’; ‘To a Red-haired Beggar Girl’, The Swan’; ‘The Seven Old Men’; ‘To a Woman Passing by’.

Wk 4:

W.B. Yeats, from The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats (Wordsworth Poetry Library, 2000): ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’; ‘A Coat’; ‘Easter 1916’; ‘The Second Coming’; ‘Sailing to Byzantium’; ‘Among School Children’; 'The Circus Animals' Desertion'.

T.S. Eliot, from Selected Poems (Faber, 2002): ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’; ‘Preludes’; ‘Gerontion’; The Waste Land.

Wk 5:

Ezra Pound, from Selected Poems (Faber, 1948, 2004). ‘Cino’; ‘Portrait d’une Femme’; ‘The Garret’; ‘The Garden’; ‘A Pact’; ‘Dance Figure’; ‘April’; ‘Gentildonna’; ‘The Rest’; ‘Les Millwin’; ‘Ite’; ‘The Bath Tub’; ‘Liu Che’; ‘Coda’; ‘In a Station of the Metro’; ‘The Encounter’, ‘The Tea Shop’, ‘The River Merchant’s Wife: a Letter; ‘Hugh Selwyn Mauberley’ I-II.

William Carlos Williams, from The Collected Earlier Poems, also at The Young Housewife’; ‘The Great Figure’; ‘Spring and All’ / ‘By the road to the contagious hospital’; ‘The Rose’; ‘Death the Barber’ (‘Of death’); ‘Shoot it Jimmy!’/’Our orchestra’; ‘To Elsie’ /‘The pure products of America’; ‘The Red Wheelbarrow’/‘So much depends upon’); ‘Rapid Transit’/‘Somebody dies every four minutes’; ‘At the Ball Game’/‘The crowd at the ball game’; ‘The Wildflower’/‘Black-eyed susan’; ‘This is Just to Say’.

Wk 6: Reading Week

Wk 7:

Mina Loy, from The Last Lunar Baedeker, ed. Roger Conover (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1997): ‘Three Moments in Paris’; ‘Virgins plus Curtains Minus Dots’;; ‘The Effectual Marriage’; ‘Brancusi’s Golden Bird’; ‘Songs to Joannes’, I-IV, XII-XIV; ‘O Hell’; ‘Der Blinde Junge’; ‘Gertrude Stein’; ‘The Widow’s Jazz’; ‘Chiffon Velours’.

Marianne Moore, from Observations: Poems (Farrar Strauss, 2016): ‘To a Steam Roller’; ‘To a Snail’; ‘Poetry’; ‘The Fish’; ‘A Grave’; ‘When I Buy Pictures'; ‘No Swan so Fine’; ‘The Paper Nautilus’.

Wk 8:

Wallace Stevens, from Harmonium (Faber, 2001): ‘Earthy Anecdote’, ‘Domination of Black’, ‘The Snow Man’, ‘The Emperor of Ice Cream’; ‘Sunday Morning’; ‘Anecdote of the Jar’; ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’; ‘Nomad Exquisite’; ‘The Bird with the Coppery, Keen Claws’; 'Tea at the Palaz of Hoon'; 'The Paltry Nude Starts on a Spring Voyage'.

Langston Hughes, from Selected Poems of Langston Hughes (Serpent’s Tail, 1999): ‘Afro-American fragment’; ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’; ‘Mother to Son’; ‘I, too, sing America’; “Hard Luck’; ‘Po’ Boy Blues’; ‘Brass Spittoons’ ‘The Weary Blues’ ‘Boogie: 1 a.m.’; ‘Dream Boogie’; ‘Harlem’; ‘Let America be America Again’; ‘Theme for English B’.

Wk 9:

Hart Crane, from Complete Poems (any edition): ‘At Melville’s Tomb’; ‘Voyages’ I; ‘To Brooklyn Bridge’; ‘O Carib Isle’; ‘The Idiot’ ‘To Emily Dickinson’; ‘A Name for All’; ‘Bacardi Spreads the Eagle’s Wings’; ‘Key West’.

Federico García Lorca, from Poet in New York (Penguin Modern Classics, 2002): ‘Dawn’, ‘The King of Harlem’ I; ‘Dance of Death’; ‘Cry to Rome’; ‘Christmas on the Hudson’; ‘Ode to Walt Whitman’.

Wk 10: W.H. Auden, from Selected Poems (Faber): ’Who stands’; ‘Control of the passes was, he saw, the key’; ‘O what is that sound which so thrills the ear’; ‘Look, stranger’; 'Consider this and in our time'; 'What's in your mind, my dove, my coney'; 'O where are you going'; ‘Spain’; ‘As I walked out one evening’; ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’; ‘In Memory of W.B. Yeats; ‘Refugee Blues’; ‘I September, 1939’.

C.P. Cavafy, from The Collected Poems: With Parallel Greek Text, trans. Evangelos Sachperoglou et al. OUP World’s Classics, 2009: ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’; ‘The City’; ‘The God Forsakes Anthony’; ‘Ithaca’; ‘Alexandrian Kings’; ‘In the Month of Athyr’; ‘Body, Remember’; ‘Caesarion’; ‘To Remain’; ‘In an Old Book’; ‘He Asked about the Quality’; ‘On the Ship’.