American Poetry After 1900: “Schooling” American Poetry

ENGL 532.01 | Fall 2022 | Wednesday 5:30 – 8:15 | MYBK 210
Focus: American Poetry Since 1945

Jasper Johns, “Moratorium”

The power of what the poet Robert Creeley would call a “company”–a group of fellow travelers in art and life who share certain core ideas about what poetry might accomplish–has long sustained American poets. At times, these groups take on the language of coalitions and movements, whether avant-garde or rear-guard. At other times they suggest an artistic flowering, using the language of poetic renaissance. And at times, they take on the institutional language of a “school.” Whether we are talking about the Objectivists or the San Francisco Renaissances, the Black Arts or the Black Mountain movements, the New Formalists or the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets, the New York School or the Darkroom Collective, the Confessionals or the Beats, the coalitions of CantoMundo or Cave Canem, such assemblages can help poets make sense of themselves, and they help critics organize—both aesthetically and ideologically, in the moment or in retrospect—the explosive growth of American poetry since the mid-twentieth century.

In this class, we will take this broader tendency to “school” our diverse American poetries as a point of departure: How did such schools come to be? What do these schools clarify? What do they obscure? Who gets included? And who remains on the outside? In addition to a diverse range of poems from across the twentieth century, readings will include primary sources such as manifestos, poetics essays and glimpses into historically important anthologies. Our goal will be to become familiar with the most important movements and poets in American poetry after World War II through reading, writing, discussion, creative engagement, and research.

Student Learning Outcomes

Learning Objectives:

By the end of this class, students who successfully complete this class will have demonstrated the ability to:

Course-Specific SLOs:

By the end of this class, you will have had the opportunity to:

  • Explore the various schools and movements that comprise American poetry after 1945
  • Apply a range of literary and theoretical terms related to the study ofAmerican poetry after 1945
  • Articulate how various contextual forces shaped American poetry after 1945.
  • Understand the importance of original publications contexts (in both periodicals and books) in shaping important movements in American poetry after 1945
  • Deploy both primary and secondary research to support close engagements withAmerican poetry after 1945

Relevant MA Program Outcomes

In addition to the above, students who successfully complete this class will have demonstrated the ability to:

  • Use close reading and textual analysis to interpret literary and cultural texts.
  • To convey sound research-based arguments in accordance with standard expectations in academic writing.
  • To select relevant critical, historical, cultural, and theoretical sources to inform contributions to scholarly conversations.

Required Course Materials

All required course materials are available through the CofC College Bookstore or are linked through the course website. There is one text you will be required to purchase (other texts will be lined or available via the password-protected “readings” tab):

Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, Volume II, Second Edition (Oxford UP, 2014)

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