ENGLISH 318 - Genre Studies
Section: 001 Public Poetry
Term: FA 2018
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

In the “Preface” to his Lyrical Ballads, William Wordsworth famously describes poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” a literary artifact that “takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” Such a claim suggests that a poem is ultimately a product of one’s intellect even if the poem’s seeds issue from emotional, affective experience. For Wordsworth, then, a poem represents the mastery of one’s emotion in the service of verbal art. Similarly, William Butler Yeats writes that poetry is that which “We make out of the quarrel with … ourselves,” suggesting that a poem—that which the poet has recollected in tranquility, remember—is the textualization of the poet’s internal struggles, the private made public. In the shadow of beliefs such as these, Audre Lorde counters that poetry is the “the revelation or distillation of experience, not the sterile word play that, too often, the white fathers distorted the word poetry to mean—in order to cover their desperate wish for imagination without insight.” According to Lorde, poetry has social, political, and personal functions in addition to (and often supersede) its aesthetic ones. In this course, we will examine Lorde-ly poetry and poets that actively yearn for political insight in equal measure to imagination, that attempt to make an impact in their particular socio-historical moments at the risk of incurring aesthetic censure. Towards those ends, our archive will draw primarily from U.S. poets of the 20th and 21st centuries, paying particular attention to poems, poets, and poetics at the margins of dominant U.S. culture whose often overt political projects also ask us to reimagine poetry itself. We will first introduce normative poetics and prosody as the background against which our poets distinguish their work, and then we will read poets including Claude McKay, Allen Ginsberg, Harryette Mullen, Audre Lorde, and Claudia Rankine; see ASL poetry by the Flying Words Project, Clayton Valli, and more; and consider poetry-adjacent works such as the Transborder Immigrant Tool and Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade. All the while, we’ll keep in mind Allen Ginsberg’s claim that, “Poetry is not an expression of the party line.”

ENGLISH 318 - Genre Studies
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 9781556592812
The poem's heartbeat : a manual of prosody, Author: Corn, Alfred, Publisher: Copper Canyon Press 2008
ISBN: 9780141981772
Citizen : an American lyric, Author: Rankine, Claudia., Publisher: Penguin 2015
ISBN: 9780872860179
Howl : and other poems, Author: Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997., Publisher: City Lights Books 2010
ISBN: 9780872864795
Howl on trial : the battle for free expression, Publisher: City Lights 2007
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