Studies in North American Poetry AMERICAN POETRY FROM 1945 TO THE PRESENT
Fall 2008 Zoltán Abádi-Nagy, office: main bldg., 120/2
TH 10:00-11:40 Phone: (52) 512-900/22507 (no voice mail)
Rm.: main bldg. 121 E-mail:
Office hours: TH 12:00-13:00, F 14:00-15:00,
and by appointment.
Make-up classes, when needed: Prospectus This course is designed to be a close study of major figures and works marking significant movements in mid- and late 2Oth century American poetry, including traditionalism, avante- and arrière-garde poetry, late modernism, postmodernism, the Black Mountain School, the Beat Generation, the New York School, ethnic/multicultural/new identity poetry, women’s poetry, confessionalism, deep imagism, and language poetry. Besides emphasizing major poets from 1945 to the present, some poetic theory and criticism will also be incorporated as well as relevant sociopolitical, cultural, and intellectual developments examined. Class Format: discussion combined with brief lecture sections and debates Credit: 2 credit hours. General Course Requirements
Considering that this is a poetry seminar, reading assignments are reasonable. Students will be expected to attend class faithfully, to keep up with the readings, and to come to class prepared with questions and comments for discussion. The classes will be conducted in an atmosphere in which the instructor and the students take the time to discuss readings and share their insights. We can set aside part of any class meeting for informal discussion of our work if needed.
Specific Requirements Reader's journal; informed attendance; participation in class discussion; presentation; writing workshop; in-class essay; out-of-class essay; final test.
One ten-minute presentation (or fifteen minutes if two students team up to do one): an exposition and critique of a PRINTED critical essay related to some major aspect of post-WWII American poetry or a school of that poetry or a poet in general or to a poem in particular. The presenter’s aim is to generate a good debate by using the interrogative (question-and-answer) method. Sign-up deadline for presentations: September 18. (Maximum two presentations per class session.)
Writing Assignments JOURNAL—Each student will keep a reader's journal in a separate notebook, making an entry of at least one page per assigned reading, raising at least one pertinent issue for classroom discussion. You are free to choose your own topics. (More about this in class.) The journal entries may be hand-written or typed, as you prefer. Journals will be collected at least twice during the term, beginning the fourth week of class.
PAPERS—1) The in-class essay topics will be based on the poets discussed up to that point (topic assigned). 2) The out-of-class essay(eight double-spaced, word-processed pages) will be both theoretically guided and a topic of your own designing. (This will be elaborated in class.) It is a research essay with at least two printed sources. You can sign up for individual conference sessions in my office hours if you have difficulty in designing a topic. The take-home essay will be discussed in a peer workshop before it is submitted. The writing workshop is fundamental to the course. Students who do not participate in it, because they are absent without good cause or do not have a fully drafted version of their paper, will lose 5 points on the grade of the paper once it is handed in. You must give me and your fellow students copies in the class preceding the project session week. For due date see "Schedule" below. Assignments 1 and 2 will be discussed in detail in class. 3) The final test will be cumulative, a combination of various kinds of identification questions. It will be described more fully in class near the end of the semester.
Documentation, format—When you consult or quote a source, document it according to the usual academic principles. In all matters of form, use the MLA format. If you have questions about how to do so, ask me, or ask a librarian for the 4th or 5th edition of the MLA Handbook.
Editing—Take pride in your work, edit it carefully, root out mechanical errors. Expect your out-of-class paper and final exam essay to lose one point per five errors.
Font, margins—Out-of-class papers must be typed in an ordinary font. Those with abnormally wide margins or typeface, will be returned unmarked, and must be resubmitted as directed.
Late paper policy—No late paper policy. The presentation and essay deadlines are not negotiable. Academic misconduct—Plagiarism will not be tolerated. You can be assigned a grade of F for it. The Institute of English and American Studies expects its students to adhere to the university’s code of student conduct, especially as it pertains to academic misconduct.
The following statement must be typed on the title page of your essay and signed in
hand: “This paper has been prepared in full awareness of the international norms of
academic conduct.” Grading Participation in discussion (inclusive of occasional quizzes—unannounced, and evaluated on an S/F basis, F meaning a loss of one point in each case—designed to check if you have actually read the day’s reading) will count 10%,
in-class essay 10%,
take-home essay 30%,
final test 30%.
A/5=91-100; B/4=81-90; C/3=71-80; D/2=61-70; F/1 is 60% or below.
Course requirements—The out-of-class essay and the final test are course requirements in that without satisfying these, you cannot pass the course. Incompletes—Incomplete grades will be possible only if you must miss classes or the final test because of verified illness or for scheduled activities of official university student organizations—if (this applies to the latter case) I am notified in advance of your absence.
Absence policy—Grades can be lowered for more than three unexcused absences. If circumstances exist that cause you to be absent more than twice in the semester, make an appointment to speak to me about your progress in the course. However, more than three unexcused absences will automatically fail the course. It is possible to fail the course by absences alone.
Tardy policy—Tardiness and early departures are not allowable. They are offensive to your fellow students and to the instructor because they disrupt class work. If you have a compelling reason for arriving late or leaving early, speak with me about the problem. If you regularly cut the beginning and/or the end of class sessions, it can add up to unexcused full-class-time absences.
Extra credit—No extra credit policy.
Borderline grades—If your grade is borderline, it depends on attendance and the general pattern of your work (performance improvements) if you can get a break.
Discussing grades—If you have questions about how I evaluated your work, please stop by to see me. It is my policy to discuss grades in person only, and not over the telephone.
Disabilities policy—Students who need course adaptations or accommodations because of certified disability or who have emergency medical information to share, should speak to me after the first class meeting.
S C H E D U L E
I. LATE MODERNISM, ARRIÈRE-GARDE, POETIC FORMALISM
Theodore Roethke’s “Open House,” “My Papa’s Waltz,” “The Waking,” “I Knew a Woman,” “In a Dark Time”;
Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish,” “Sestina,” “In the
Waiting Room,” “One Art.”
Robert Penn Warren’s “History among the Rocks,” “Founding Fathers”;
Randall Jarrell’s “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner,” “Eighth Air Force,” “A Girl in a Library,” “The Player Piano”;
Howard Nemerov’s “The Goose Fish”;
Richard Wilbur’s “Year’s End.”
II. POSTMODERNISM: THE BLACK MOUNTAIN SCHOOL Charles Olson’s “Projective Verse,” “Maximus, to himself,” “Song 3” (from The Songs of Maximus);
Robert Creeley’s “Words,” “The Dishonest Mailmen,” “The World”;
Robert Duncan’s “An African Elegy,” “The Ballad of Mrs. Noah,” “Poetry, a Natural Thing.”
III. POSTMODERNISM: THE BEAT GENERATION Allen Ginsberg’s “A Supermarket in California,” “Howl,” “America,” “A Vow,” “Sunflower Sutra”;
Gregory Corso’s “Poets Hitchhiking on the Highway”; “God? She’s Black?” “The Bomb”; Gary Snyder’s “Ax Handles”;
Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “I Am Waiting,” “In Golden Gate Park That Day.”
Start conferences as needed
IV. POSTMODERNISM: THE NEW YORK SCHOOL Frank O`Hara’s “Why I Am Not a Painter,” “Ave Maria,” “A True account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island”;
John Ashberry’s “The One Thing That Can Save America,” “What Is Poetry,” “Paradoxes and Oxymorons.”
V. THE CONFESSIONALISTS Robert Lowell’s “Mr. Edwards and the Spider,” “For the Union Dead,” “Skunk Hour,” “Night Sweat,” “Reading Myself”;
John Berryman’s 14, 29, 40, 45, 145, 384 from Dream Songs;
W. D. Snodgrass’s 6 from Heart’s Needle.
Anne Sexton’s “Ringing the Bells,” “The Truth the Dead Know,” “The Farmer’s Wife,’” “All My Pretty Ones,” “With Mercy for the Greedy”;
Sylvia Plath’s “The Applicant,” “Lady Lazarus,” “Ariel,” “Daddy,” “Mystic.”
VI. DEEP IMAGISM AND PERFORMANCE POETICS
Robert Bly’s “Poem in Three Parts,” “The Executive’s Death,” “Snowbanks North of the House”;
James Wright’s “Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio,” “In Terror of Hospital Bills.”
VII. IDENTITY POETRY; WOMEN, ETHNICITY Adrienne Rich’s “Diving into the Wreck,” “From a Survivor,” “Translations,” “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law,” “Planetarium,” “When We Dead Awaken”;
Denise Levertov’s “In Mind,” “The Wings,” “Stepping Westward,” “The Third Dimension,” “The 90th Year.”
Gwendolyn Brooks’s “a song in the front yard,” “The Mother,” “We Real Cool,” “The Crazy Woman”;
Imamu Amiri Baraka’s (LeRoi Jones) “A Poem Some People Will Have to Understand,” “I Substitute for the Dead Lecturer,” “An Agony. As Now.”
Ishmael Reed’s “Flight to Canada.”
Mari Evans’s “I Am a Black Woman”; Maya Angelou’s “And Still I Rise”; Rita Dove’s “Dusting,” “Roast Possum”;
Joy Harjo’s “New Orleans,” “Remember,” “The Woman Hanging from the Thirteenth Floor Window”;
Pedro Pietri’s “Puerto Rican Obituary”;
Gary Soto’s “Mexicans Begin Jogging”;
Cathy Song’s “Picture Bride.”
VIII. INDEPENDENTS A.R.Ammons’s “Mountain Talk,” “Reflective,” “The City Limits”;
James Dickey’s “The Lifeguard,” “Cherrylog Road,” “The Shark’s Parlor.”
Out-of-class essays due
IX.Winding up seminar, with a brief introduction (lecture, with samples of poetry) to PERFORMANCE, ETNOPOETICS, THE SECOND NEW YORK GENERATION, LANGUAGE POETRY
Texts: course packet (poems from various anthologies) Recommended Theoretical and Critical Reading Allen, Donald and Tallman, Warren eds. The Poetics of the New American Poetry. NY: Grove, 1973.
Altieri, Charles. “Robert Creeley’s Poetics of Conjecture: the Pains and Pleasures of Staging a Self at War with its Own Lyric Desires.” Self and sensibility in contemporary American poetry. NY: Cambridge UP, 1984: 103-31.
- - - “John Ashbery: Discursive Rhetoric within a Poetics of Thinking.” Self and sensibility in contemporary American poetry. NY: Cambridge UP, 1984: 132-64.
- - - “Self-reflection as Action: the Recent Work of Adrienne Rich.” Self and sensibility in contemporary American poetry. NY: Cambridge UP, 1984: 165-90.
Anderson, Linda R. Women and autobiography in the twentieth centur: remembered futures. London: Prentice Hall, 1997.
Ashton, Jennifer. From Modernism to Postmodernism: American Poetry and Theory in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005.
Axelrod, Steven Gould and Deese, Helen eds. Robert Lowell: essays on the poetry Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988.
Barbarese, J. T. "Theology for Atheists: Reading Ammons." Journal of Modern Literature 26.3-4 (2003): 73-83.
Gill, Joanna. "'My Sweeney, Mr. Eliot': Anne Sexton, and the 'Impersonal Theory of Poetry'." Journal of Modern Literature 27.1-2 (2003): 36-56.
Goble, Mark. "'Our Country's Black and White Past': Film and the Figures of History in Frank O'Hara." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography 71.1 (1999): 56-92.
Gordon, John. "Being Sylvia Being Ted Being Dylan: Plath's 'The Snowman on the Moor'." Journal of Modern Literature 27.1-2 (2003): 188-92.
Greene, Sally. "The Pull of the Oracle: Personalized Mythologies in Plath and de Chirico." Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 25.1 (1992): 107-20.
Grossman, Allen. “The Poetry of Robert Lowell.” American Writing Today. Vol. 2. Ed. Kostelanetz, Richard. Forum Series, Washington, D.C.: USICA, 1982: 69-90.
Gustavsson, Bo. The Soul under Stress: A Study of the Poetics of John Berryman’s Dream Songs. Studia Anglistica Upsaliensia 52. Uppsala: Almqvist, 1984.
Hassan, Ihab. “Part 4: Poetry”. Contemporary American Literature 1945-1972. An Introduction. NY: Frederick Ungar, 1974: 88-137.
Horvath, Brooke Kenton. "The Satisfactions of What's Difficult in Gwendolyn Brook's Poetry." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography 62.4 (1990): 606-16.
Hutchinson, George. "The Pleistocene in the Projective: Some of Olson's Sources." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography 54.1 (1982): 81-96.
Jacobs, Joshua S. "Mapping after the Holocaust: The 'Atlases' of Adrienne Rich and Gerhard Richter." Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 32.4 (1999): 111-27.
Martin, Wendy. “Adrienne Rich: The Evolution of a Poet.”. American Writing Today. Vol. 2. Ed. Kostelanetz, Richard. Forum Series, Washington, D.C.: USICA, 1982: 91-102.
Marsack, Robin. Sylvia Plath. Open Guides to Literature. Buckingham: Open UP, 1992.
Martz, William J. John Berryman. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1969.
Mazzaro, Jerome. “Between Two Worlds: Randall Jarrell.” Postmodern American Poetry. Urbana: U. of Illinois P., 1980: 32-58.
- - - “The Failure of Language: Theodore Roethke.” Postmodern American Poetry. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1980: 59-84.
- - - “The Yeatsian Mask: John Berryman.” Postmodern American Poetry. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1980: 112-38.
- - - “The Cycles of History: Sylvia Plath.” Postmodern American Poetry. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1980: 139-65.
Melhem, D. H. Gwendolyn Brooks: Poetry & the heroic voice Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1987.
Meredith, William. Poems are Hard to Read. U of Michigan P, 1991.
Meyers, Jeffrey. "Robert Lowell as Critic." Journal of Modern Literature 14.1 (1987): 127-146.
Middlebrook, Diane. "Becoming Anne Sexton." Denver Quarterly 18.4 (1984): 24-34.
Mills, Ralph J. Essays on Poetry. Dalkey Archive, 2003. Chapters on Bly, Levertov, Roethke, Wilbur, Wright.
---. Theodore Roethke. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1963.
Molesworth, Charles. The Fierce Embrace. A Study of Contemporary American Poetry. Columbia: U of Missouri P, 1979.
Moraru, Christian. "'Dancing to the Typewriter': Rewriting and Cultural Appropriation in Flight to Canada." Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 41.2 (2000): 99-113.
Mvuyekere, Pierre-Damien. "The Critical Reception of Ishmael Reed." MFS: Modern Fiction Studies 46.4 (2000): 979-83.
Nelles, William. "Saving the State in Lowell's 'For the Union Dead'." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography 55.4 (1983): 639-42.
Nelson, Rudolph L. "A Note on the Evolution of Robert Lowell's 'The Public Garden'." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography 41 (1969): 106-110.
Newman, Charles Hamilton ed. The Art of Sylvia Plath: A Symposium: Selected Criticism. London: Faber, 1970.
O’Hara, Frank. The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara. Ed. Donald Allen. Berkeley, CA: U of California P, 1995.
Országh László, Virágos Zsolt. Az amerikai irodalom története. Budapest, Eötvös, 1997.
Park, You-me; Wald, Gayle. "Native Daughters in the Promised Land: Gender, Race, and the Question of Separate Spheres." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography 70.3 (1998): 607-33.
Parkinson, Thomas Francis ed. Robert Lowell: A collection of critical essays. NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968.
Peck, John. "Pollution, Purification and Song." TriQuarterly 75 (1989): 121-148.
Peel, Robin. "The Bell Jar Manuscripts, Two January 1962 Poems, 'Elm,' and Ariel." Journal of Modern Literature 23.3-4 (2000): 441-54.
Perez-Torres, Rafael “The Migrant: Abelrado, Sanchez, Villanueva, Corpi, Baca, Soto.” Movements in Chicano Poetry. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995: 104-13.
- - - “Reclaiming the Word: Castillo and Soto”. Movements in Chicano Poetry. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995: 263-69.
Plimpton, George ed. Poets at Work. The Paris Review Interviews. NY: Penguin, 1989.
Pritchard, William H. Randall Jarrell: a literary life. NY: Farrar, 1990.
Quinn, Justin. "Coteries, Landscape and the Sublime in Allen Ginsberg." Journal of Modern Literature 27.1-2 (2003): 193-206.
Ragaisiené, Irena. The Closed Gardens of Art: Mythopoetic Strategies in the Poetry of Sylvia Plath. Bergen: U of Bergen, 2000.
Raskin, Jonah. American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and the Making of the Beat Generation. Berkeley, CA: U of California P, 2004.
Ratner, Rochelle. “Sylvia Plath: Beyond the Biographical”. American Writing Today. Vol. 2. Ed. Kostelanetz, Richard. Forum Series, Washington, D.C.: USICA, 1982: 55-68.
Rácz István, and Bókay Antal, eds. Modern sorsok és késő modern poétikák: Tanulmányok Sylvia Plathról és Ted Hughesról. Budapest: Janus/Gondolat, 2002.
Rich, Adrienne. “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Revision.” First Person Singular. Writers on Their Craft. Ed. Joyce Carol Oates. NJ: Ontario Review, 1983: 105-19.
Rich, Adrienne. Two essays on her (Harriet Davidson and Helen M. Dennis) in Easthope and Thompson 166-76 (on politics and poetics of location) and 177-94 (on consciousness raising).
Rollins, J. Barton. "Robert Lowell's Apprenticeship and Early Poems." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography 52.1 (1980): 67-83.
Sarwar, Selim. "Robert Lowell: Scripting the Mid-Century Eschatology." Journal of Modern Literature 25.2 (2001-2002): 114-30.
Shapiro, Alan. "'A living to fail': The Case of John Berryman." TriQuarterly 58 (1983): 114-125.
Sharp, Ronald A. "Dickey and Lowell: The American Pastoral at Mid Century." TriQuarterly 116 (2003): 210-18.
Sibley, Gay. "Documents of Presumption: The Satiric Use of the Ginsberg Letters in William Carlos Williams' Paterson." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography 55.1 (1983): 1-23.
Sielke, Sabine. Fashioning the Female Subject: the Intertextual Networking of Dickinson, Moore, and Rich. U of Michigan P, 1997.
Smith, Ernest J. "John Berryman's 'Programmatic' for The Dream Songs and an Instance of Revision." Journal of Modern Literature 23.3-4 (2000): 429-39.
Spencer, Luke. "Mistress Bradstreet and Mr. Berryman: The Ultimate Seduction." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography 66.2 (1994): 353-66.
Stanford, Ann Folwell. "An Epic with a Difference: Sexual Politics in Gwendolyn Brooks's 'The Anniad'." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography 67.2 (1995): 283-301.
Staples, Hugh B. "The Rose in the Sea-Wind: A Reading of Theodore Roethke's 'North American Sequence'." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography 36.2 (1964): 189-203.
Stevenson, Anne. Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.
Sweet, David L. "Parodic Nostalgia for Aesthetic Machismo: Frank O'Hara and Jackson Pollock." Journal of Modern Literature 23.3-4 (2000): 375-91.
Sword, Helen. "James Merrill, Sylvia Plath, and the Poetics of Ouija." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography 66.3 (1994): 553-72.
Thompson, Catherine. "'Dawn Poems in Blood': Sylvia Plath and PMS." TriQuarterly 80 (1990-1991): 221-49.
- - - "Two Letters on Sylvia Plath and a Reply." TriQuarterly 82 (1991): 210-17.
Trigilio, Tony. "'Strange Prophecies Anew': Rethinking the Politics of Matter and Spirit in Ginsberg's Kaddish." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography 71.4 (1999): 773-95.
Uroff, Dickie Margaret. Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1980.
Virágos Zsolt. Cf. Országh László.
Waggoner, H. Hyatt. “After Modernism”. American Poets: From the Puritans to the Present. NY: Dell, 1970: 563-636.
Wagner, Erica. Ariel's Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and the Story of the Birthday Letters. London: Faber & Faber, 2000.
Waller, Gary. "I and Ideology: Demystifying the Self of Contemporary Poetry." Denver Quarterly 18.3 (1983): 123-138.
Wallingford, Katharine T. "Robert Lowell's Poetry of Repetition." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography 57.3 (1985): 424-33.
Weiser, David K. "Berryman's Sonnets: In and Out of the Tradition." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography 55.3 (1983): 388-404.
Williamson, Alan. “Real and Numinous Selves: a Reading of Plath.” Introspection and Contemporary Poetry. Massachusetts: Harvard UP, 1984: 26-64.
- - - “The Diffracting Diamond: Ashberry, Romanticism and Anti-Art.” Introspection and Contemporary Poetry. Massachusetts: Harvard UP, 1984: 116-48.
Witek, Terri. "Robert Lowell's Tokens of the Self." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography 63.4 (1991): 712-26.
Wright, James. A chapter on him in Robert Bly (67-86).
Zinnes, Harriet. "In Memory of My Feelings." Denver Quarterly 35.4 (2001): 133-34.