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English literature

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Course type:
Elective course
3 year, 1, 2 module


Platt, J.B.

Course Syllabus


The course begins with the major post-war American schools centered around Black Mountain College (Charles Olson’s “projective verse”) and the Beatniks in San Francisco. We will focus on the break with traditional forms, the push towards absolute sincerity of expression, and the exploration of non- heteronormative forms of sexuality. We then proceed to the major communitarian trends – Black nationalist poetry and feminism. We will also consider points of intersection between the two movements, as in the work of Audre Lorde. The next three sections of course examine working-class British poets, Irish poets that articulate a range of forms of national identity, and post- colonial poets from the Caribbean islands and the Indian subcontinent. The course closes with a discussion of political verse being written now.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • In this course, we will read closely and discuss poems from a range of genres and styles, presenting a survey of contemporary Anglophone poetry with a special focus on politically engaged verse. Among our central themes will be political violence, poverty and oppression, marginalized voices and identities, and the reified forms of language itself.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Students will become acquainted with the major trends of Anglophone poetry after 1945 and many of the most significant poets writing in America, Britain and Ireland. Tracing the different forms of poems under discussion, students will develop a fine-tuned understanding of political engagement found in the how art can contribute to political struggle.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Introduction
    Poetry and Politics. General overview.
  • Black Mountain School
    Postmodernism. Larry Eigner, Robert Duncan, Ed Dorn, Paul Blackburn.
  • Beatniks and Queer
    Subcultures. Beat Generation. Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  • Black Nationalism
    Poetry and revolution. Amiri Baraka
  • After Black Nationalism
    Amiri Baraka’s disciples. Haki R. Madhubuti (Don Luther Lee)
  • From Feminine to Feminism
    Feminist poetry movement. Denise Levertov, Maxine Kumin, Maya Angelou
  • From Feminism to Women of Color
    Black feminism and poetry. Audre Lorde
  • British Working Class
    Working class poetry in Britain. Ted Hughes.
  • Irish
    Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, John Montague
  • Post-Colonial
    Post-colonialism in literature. Mabel Sigun. Chinua Achebe.
  • Eco-Poetry
    Forrest Gander. Alice Oswald. Jay Ramsay & Carole Bruce .
  • Current
    Patience Agbabi. Sean Bonney . Paul Conneally . Tony Curtis
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Participation
    Students will be expected to read 15-25 pages of poetry in the original per week. During the seminars, students will read the poems (or selections) aloud and construct close analytical arguments in small groups construct close analytical arguments in small groups.
  • non-blocking Presentation
    Each student will make one 10-minute presentation. Students will sign up for a presentation slot during the second class. The presentation should make a concrete argument based entirely on the text of the chosen poem and should not include any “background” information or context.
  • non-blocking Midterm paper
    3-4 pg. (Times New Roman, 12 pt., double-spaced) close analysis of one poem from the syllabus. You may build off class discussions, but you must go further in your argument.
  • non-blocking Final paper (essay)
    (7-8 pg. (Times New Roman, 12 pt., double-spaced), comparing poems by at least three different authors to make a concrete argument about poetry and politics. Some reference to recommended readings is required. You are urged to build off your presentation and midterm paper)
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.4 * Final paper (essay) + 0.2 * Midterm paper + 0.2 * Participation + 0.2 * Presentation


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Axelrod, S. G., Roman, C., & Travisano, T. J. (2012). The New Anthology of American Poetry : Postmodernisms 1950-Present. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=549303
  • Matek, L., & Rehlicki, J. P. (2014). Facing the Crises : Anglophone Literature in the Postmodern World. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=805810

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • MacGowan, C. J. (2004). Twentieth-Century American Poetry. Maldon, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=231524
  • Young, R. (2016). Postcolonialism : An Historical Introduction. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1380042