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EN2K9/EN3L1 Transatlantic Modernist Poetry - 30 CATS

This module is not running in 2022/23.

*The syllabus and assessment pattern for this year is likely to remain very similar next year, but please note that all information here is subject to change*

Lillian Hingley

This module is a pathway-approved option for World and Comparative Literature, a distributional on the English pathway, and an option on all other pathways.

Seminar times

Fridays 11.00-13.00; 15.00-17.00

Module description

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 - 2 x 3500 word essay
  • Finalist students - 2 x 4000 word essay


Required course texts: suggested editions below, but any editions (including online versions) containing the listed poems are acceptable, except in the case of Dickinson and in the case of non-Anglophone, translated poems (Baudelaire, Lorca, Cavafy), where students are asked to use the listed editions. The library contains e-books of a number of these. Please consult the Talis Aspire module reading list in the library.

Term 1

Wk 1: Presentation of module

Wk 2: Transatlantic poetic modernity: Contexts and Debates. Eliot, ‘Preludes’; Stevens, ‘Anecdote of the Jar’; Williams, ‘The Great Figure’; Loy, ‘O Hell’; Hughes, ‘Mother to Son’; Cavafy, ‘On the Ship’.

Wk 3: Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself (Dover, 2003). Sections 1-20.

Wk 4: Emily Dickinson, in McNeil, Helen (ed) Emily Dickinson (Everyman, 1997): Poems 258, 280, 288, 328, 341, 435, 465, 512, 613, 712, 754, 1129.

Wk 5: Charles Baudelaire, ‘Parisian Scenes’ in The Flowers of Evil (OUP World’s Classics, 2008): ‘The Sun’; ‘To a Red-haired Beggar Girl’, The Swan’; ‘The Seven Old Men’; ‘’To a Woman Passing by’; ‘Dusk’.

Wk 6: Reading Week

Wk 7: W.B. Yeats, from Selected Poems (Penguin, 2000): ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’; ‘A Coat’; ‘Easter 1916’; ‘The Second Coming’; ‘Sailing to Byzantium’; ‘Byzantium’; ‘Among School Children’.

Wk 8: 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’; ‘Arides’; ‘Coda; ‘In a Station of the Metro’; ‘The Encounter’, ‘The Tea Shop’, ‘The River Merchant’s Wife: a Letter; ‘Hugh Selwyn Mauberley’ I-II.

Wk 9: T.S. Eliot, from Selected Poems (Faber, 2002): ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’; ‘Preludes’; ‘Gerontion’; The Waste Land.

Wk 10: Mina Loy, from The Last Lunar Baedeker (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1997): ‘Virgins plus Curtains Minus Dots’; ‘The Effectual Marriage’; ‘Brancusi’s Golden Bird’; ‘Songs to Joannes’, I-III; ‘O Hell’; ‘The Widow’s Jazz’; ‘Chiffon Velours’.

Term 2:

Wk 1: William Carlos Williams, from Spring and All (Martino Fine Books, 2015): I ‘By the road to the contagious hospital’; VI ‘Of death’; XIV Our orchestra’; VVIII ‘The pure products of America’; XXII ‘So much depends upon’; XXV ‘Somebody dies every four minutes’; XXVI ‘The crowd at the ball game’; XXVII ‘Black-eyed susan’

Wk 2: Marianne Moore, from Observations: Poems (Farrar Strauss, 2016): ‘To a Steam Roller’; ‘To a Snail’; ‘Poetry’; ‘The Fish’; ‘A Grave’; ‘New York’; ‘No Swan so Fine’; ‘The Paper Nautilus’.

Wk 3: Hart Crane, from Complete Poems (Liveright, 2001): ‘Black Tambourine’; ‘At Melville’s Tomb’; ‘To Brooklyn Bridge’; ‘Cape Hatteras’; ‘To Emily Dickinson’; ‘O Carib Isle’; ‘Bacardi Spreads the Eagle’s Wings’; ‘The Idiot’; ‘Key West’.

Wk 4: Federico García Lorca, from Poet in New York (Penguin Modern Classics, 2002), ed. Christopher Maurer: ‘Dawn’, ‘The King of Harlem’ I; ‘Dance of Death’; ‘Cry to Rome’; ‘Christmas on the Hudson’; ‘Ode to Walt Whitman’.

Wk 5: Langston Hughes, Selected Poems of Langston Hughes (Serpent’s Tail, 1999): ‘Boogie: I am’; ‘Dream Boogie’; ‘Brass Spittoons’; ‘Daybreak in Alabama’; ‘The Weary Blues’; ‘Mother to Son’; ‘Po’ Boy Blues’; ‘I, Too’; ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’;’Lincoln Theatre’; ‘Let America be America Again’.

Wk 6: Reading Week

Wk 7: 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’.

Wk 8: C.P. Cavafy, from Complete Poems of Cavafy, trans. Rae Dalven (Harcourt, 1989): ‘Expecting the Barbarians’; ‘The City’; ‘The God Forsakes Anthony’; ‘Ithaca’; ‘Alexandrian Kings’; ‘In the Month of Athyr’; ‘Caesarion’; ‘To Remain’; ‘In an Old Book’; ‘He Asked about the Quality’.

Wk 9: W.H. Auden, from Selected Poems (Faber, 2010):’Who stands’; ‘Control of the passes was, he saw, the key’; ‘O what is that sound which so thrills the ear’ ‘Look, stranger’; ‘Spain’; ‘As I walked out one evening’; ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’; ‘In Memory of W.B. Yeats; ‘Refugee Blues’; ‘I September, 1939’.

Wk 10: Module Review Seminar

Selected poems from syllabus t.b.c.