Twentieth-Century American Poetry

L357 — Spring 2020

Nikki Skillman
Days and Times
2:30-3:45 MW
Course Description

Exploring how poetic language, structures, and devices grow and change over the course of “the American century,” we will study some of the most memorable, rapturous, iconoclastic, difficult, innovative poets and poems in the history of English. We will examine the kinds of pleasure and rigor and freshness to which the verse of this era aspires, always striving to “make it new,” and we will trace the shifting notions of authority and authenticity poets invoke in the face of profound upheavals of value and historical consciousness. Though our focus will always be on poems as individual works of art, we will also consider how they reflect the social world and pronounce upon it; we will situate the poems we read within broad aesthetic movements, within the long history of the genre in English, and within the oeuvres of their makers.