ENGLISH 317 - Literature and Culture
Spring 2021, Section 102 - The Personal, The Political, and the Poetic
Instruction Mode: Section 102 is  Online (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:


The personal is the political. It's a phrase that has resounded through American political and artistic speech since the middle of the twentieth century when it emerged in the context of second-wave feminism and was rapidly complicated by Black feminism, other women of color feminisms, and queer and trans activists and theorists. Today, its call animates a large amount of discourse from people of color, from people of a range of genders and sexualities, from disabled people, and from people from other minoritarian communities.

In this class, this history will frame our exploration of the phrase’s implications for poetry, beginning with rising of Confessional poetry in the middle of the twentieth century and continuing into the present day. What makes a “personal” poem? What makes a “political” poem? How have poets from the twentieth century onward complicated both categories? How does it affect contemporary movements in literary publishing, such as the push for gender and racial parity in publishing and the “Own Voices” movement? When, and why, have some writers felt that the phrase is limiting rather than freeing?

We’ll begin with the work of poets such as Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, and Audre Lorde and make our way forward to contemporary poets like Danez Smith, Chen Chen, Donika Kelly, Hanif Abdurraqib, Sam Sax, Ada Limón, Fatimah Asghar, Jericho Brown, and Natalie Diaz.

Course Requirements:

Assignments will include close-reading-based explications, collaborative annotations, and a group creative project culminating in a class anthology. This course will be delivered virtually, with a mixture of synchronous meeting time and asynchronous work.

Class Format:



ENGLISH 317 - Literature and Culture
Schedule Listing
101 (LEC)
 In Person
102 (LEC)
TuTh 1:00PM - 4:00PM

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