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LIT 4032: Modern American and British Poetry
Professor Mark Scroggins

In this course we will read a sampling of the poetry written (mostly) in the first two-thirds of the twentieth century by Irish, British, and American poets.

Course Texts (both required):

In the reading assignments below, I have indicated in which anthology you will want to read each poem by the abbreviations N (Nelson) and T (Tuma). There are extensive electronic resources available about most of these poets. For the poets in the Nelson anthology, the place to start is at the Modern American Poetry website, For the British and Irish poets, try the LION (Literature OnLine) link on the FAU libraries website, under “Electronic Databases.”

Course Requirements:

There will be two tests, a midterm and a non-cumulative final exam. There will be one medium-length paper (7pp.), due towards the end of the semester. Each member of the class will be expected to give a brief (10-15 minute) presentation on one of the poets we’re reading. I expect you to attend class regularly, and to be on time. If you miss more than two classes without dire and documented excuse, your final grade will be reduced by one letter. If students are regularly late for class, or show evidence of not having read the readings, I will institute a policy of beginning of class quizzes, and will adjust the final grade proportions to reflect that.

For each class, I expect you to have three carefully thought-through discussion questions regarding the poems we’re reading. (These can be three questions on one poem, two on one and one on another, or three questions on three different poems.) If possible, email these questions to me in the day or two before class.

Point breakdown:
midterm and final: 25% each
paper: 30%
participation (including discussion questions: 20%

I have no patience with beepers or cell phones. Please turn them off before you enter class. If your beeper or cell phone goes off in class, you will be ritually shamed. You are welcome to check on whether your spouse has gone into labor—but only during the halftime break. (This ban on cell phones and beepers, by the way, is University policy.)

 Course Schedule (subject to revision):

Week 1) Introduction to course; historical and cultural overview of period; poetry in the period before Modernism.

Yeats: Symbolism and the Modern Imagination

Week 2) W.B. Yeats, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” (T 32), “Who Goes With Fergus?” (T 33), “The Second Coming” (T 40), “Sailing to Byzantium” (T 42), “Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop” (T 52), “Lapis Lazuli” (T 53), “Long-Legged Fly” (xerox), “The Circus Animal’s Desertion” (T 57)

“High” Modernism

Week 3) T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land (N 285)

Week 4) Ezra Pound, “In a Station of the Metro” (xerox), Canto I (N 206), Canto II (EO 397), Canto XLV (N 218)

Week 5) Wallace Stevens, “Sunday Morning” (N 135), “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” (N 127), “Of Modern Poetry” (N 142); Mina Loy, Songs to Joannes (N 150)

Week 6) William Carlos Williams, “Spring and All” (N 167), “To Elsie” (N 168), “The Red Wheelbarrow” (N 170); Marianne Moore, “Poetry” (N 251), “An Egyptian Pulled Glass Bottle in the Shape of a Fish” (N 252), “The Fish” (N 252)

Week 7) Jean Toomer, “Reapers” (N 352), “November Cotton Flower” (N 353), “Portrait in Georgia” (N 353), “Her Lips Are Copper Wires” (N 353); Charles Reznikoff, from Testimony (N 395)

The 1930s: Poetry Takes Sides

Week 8) Midterm Exam; Edwin Rolfe, “Asbestos” (N 609), William Carlos Williams, “The Yachts” (N 192); Langston Hughes, “Come to the Waldorf-Astoria!” (N 1230), Louis MacNeice, “Bagpipe Music” (xerox)

Week 9) Wallace Stevens, “Mozart, 1935” (N 139); Louis Zukofsky, “To My Wash-Stand” (N 551), “’Mantis’” (N 553); Auden, “Musée des Beaux Arts” (T 313), “Epitaph on a Tyrant” (xerox), “In Memory of W.B. Yeats” (T 313); Muriel Rukeyser, The Book of the Dead (N 656)

The Second World War

Week 10) Edith Sitwell, “Still Falls the Rain” (xerox); George Oppen, “In Alsace” (N 605), Randall Jarrell, “Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” (N 713); Anthony Hecht, “’More Light! More Light!’” (N 816); Richard Eberhart, “The Fury of Aerial Bombardment” (xerox); Thom Gunn, “Innocence” (xerox)

Some Directions in African American Poetry

Week 11) Langston Hughes, “Theme for English B” (xerox), “The Weary Blues” (N 504); Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool” (N 772), “The Blackstone Rangers” (N 774); Ishmael Reed, “I Am a Cowboy in the Boat of Ra” (N 1050); Amiri Baraka, “A Poem for Speculative Hipsters” (xerox), “Black Art” (N 998); Robert Hayden, “Middle Passage” (N 691); Thylias Moss, “Crystals” (N 1198)

Postwar American Avant-Gardes: Beats, New York School, Language Poetry

Week 12) Allen Ginsberg, Howl (N 848); Frank O’Hara, “A Step Away from Them” (N 828), “The Day Lady Died” (N 829), “Why I Am Not a Painter” (N 830)

Week 13) John Ashbery, “The Instruction Manual” (xerox), “Farm Implements and Rudabagas in a Landscape” (N 895), “Paradoxes and Oxymorons” (N 905); Michael Palmer, “Song of the Round Man” (N 1088), “All Those Words” (N 1089), “Fifth Prose” (1090); Harryette Mullen, from Trimmings (N 1187), from S*PeRM**K*T (N 1188)

Britain and Ireland: The End of Empire and the Celtic Fringe

Week 14) Geoffrey Hill, “Ovid in the Third Reich” (T 568), “September Song” (T 569); Tony Harrison, “V” (T 591); Seamus Heaney, “Bog Queen” (xerox), “Punishment” (xerox)

Week 15) Basil Bunting, Briggflatts (xerox); NOTE: read the intro to Bunting in T 251; T annotates two passages of the poem.

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