The ABC’s of Poetry: How Poetry Matters
Fall 2015, T/Th 11:10am-12:35pm
Prof. Jennifer Chang and Prof. Jonathan Hsy
|Clockwise from top left: Dickinson, Chaucer, & Agbabi.|
How do poems make meaning? In this course, we will approach poetry as a creative practice and a provocative tool for thought, tracing a history of the symbiotic exchange between form and content from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. In asking how poetry matters, we will study poems as not only rhetorical structures and prosodic occasions, but also material objects and encounters. Poets make poems out of language, among other things, that generates new ways of thinking about the world and new habits of mind. This class is team-taught by a poet (Prof. Chang) and literature scholar (Prof. Hsy), and the class aims to rethink the distinction between literary interpretation and creative composition.
Our class will focus on six poets: Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Wyatt, Emily Dickinson, Ezra Pound, Anne Carson, and Patience Agbabi. As we read selected poems by these authors, we aim to understand how form and content interact and where theory and practice meet in collaboration and, sometimes, in conflict. This course will give students exposure to poetic forms (lyric, sonnet, ballad, free verse), and it will consider how the physical presentation of any poem shapes its meaning (manuscript, fascicle, printed text, textile, YouTube video, collage, etc). Assignments may include translation assignments, analytical essays, and creative adaptations.
*This course may be substituted for one of the ENGL 3210 (Techniques) requirements toward the Creative Writing major.