21L.487 | Spring 2002 | Undergraduate
Modern Poetry

Readings

Required Texts

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. (Download a version from eBooks@Adelaide.edu.au)

Ellman, Richard, ed. Modern Poems. 2nd ed. Edited by Richard Ellmann, Robert O’Clair, and O’Clair Ellmann, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989. ISBN: 0393959074.

Note

T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” (download a version from Project Gutenberg) is arguably the most influential poem of the period. Like many other groundbreaking works it tends to teach its readers how to read it. It is not only a poem of refraction; its method is “mythic” and refractive. Its components both depend on allusion and remake the frame or implications of the allusion, restructuring the literary history on which it depends. In some senses, this ‘historical’ argument about historicity is both the technique of the sequence AND the ‘point’ of the poem itself: questions for instance of how and whether we can learn anything from history, or whether some problematic cultural attitudes (anti-Semitism) are so threaded through our culture that we need to ‘redeem’ that history, or to ‘purify’ its language. Some read “TWL” as historically specific, a choral representation of its contemporary social and sexual mores; others read “TWL” as a more general meditation on the nature of historical progress and decline. The poem teaches its own historical method, and we learn that method cumulatively. The poem is more fun to read slowly, voice by voice and section by section. If we read it aggregatively, we can judge more accurately whether these people are in fact communicating with one another, what are the relations between sections and themes, and why the poem needs a ’narrator’ (‘Tiresias’) who has been both male and female, and who is several thousand years old. Instead of doing that work all in one or two classes, I propose we spend 10-15 minutes in each class meeting for several months, to read section-by-section closely. I list those readings as ‘sequence-poem.’

Readings by Class Session

The pages referenced in the table below refer to texts from Modern Poems.

SES# TOPICS READINGS
1

Introductions

Origins of Modernism I

Symbolist Textuality, Aestheticism, Relation to Image the Flaneur and the City

Baudelaire. “To the Reader,” “Albatross,” and “Correspondences.” (download a version of this work from Project Gutenberg) 
available in: 
Baudelaire, Charles. Cardon / textes de Charles Baudelaire et Jean Robert. Lausanne: Héron, 2002. ISBN: 2884860010 
 
2

Origins of Modernism II

The End of Victorianism

Ethics and Aesthetics

Oratory and the Performative

Darwin and Social Change

Tennyson. “Ulysses.” (download a version of this work from the University of Toronto)

Dante. Inferno XXVI. (download a version of this work from Project Gutenberg) 
available in: 
Alighieri, Dante. Inferno /Dante Alighieri; a New Verse Translation by Michael Palma. 1st ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 2002. ISBN: 0393323870

Browning. “My Last Duchess.” (download a version of this work from the University of Toronto)

Whitman (1 ff). Sequence-Poem. pp. 180-1. (download a version of this work from Project Gutenberg)

3

Origins of Modernism: III

World War I

The End of the Discourse of Rationalism

The Empire Break Down

Owen, Wilfred. (208ff) (download a version of this work from Project Gutenberg)

Yeats, W. B. pp. 32-42. (download a version of this work from Project Gutenberg)

Siegfried Sassoon. (145 ff). Sequence-Poem. pp. 181-183.5. (download a version of this work from Project Gutenberg)

For reference about WWII and Modernism see also Robinson Jeffers (147 ff). (download a version of this work from the University of Illinois)

Pay special attention to Owen’s WW I Poems. Consider how and why they use Off-rhyme.

4

Modernism and Orientalism

The Ideogram

Gender and Translation (‘Feminizing’ Asia)

The War at Home

F.S. Flint

Pound, Ezra. pp. 127-136. (download a version of this work from Americanpoems.com)

Lawrence, D. H. (117) (download a version of this work from Project Gutenberg)

For Reference: Whitman. pp. 6-8. (download a version of this work from Project Gutenberg)

Pay special attention to “The River Merchant’s Wife,” and “In a Station of the Metro.” 
Consider how the image is the respository of meaning in these poems. Sequence-Poem. pp. 183.5-185.5.

5

The Modern Image and Sculpture

Early Wittgenstein and the Status of the Image

Pound. pp. 127-136. And the Image. Sequence-Poem. pp. 187.5-189.5. (download a version of this work from Americanpoets.com)
6

Montage and Film-history

Radio Aesthetics

The Photographic Image and the Liteary Image

The Image as Repository of Desire

Lecture on Modern Literary Dimensions of Popular Culture. Sequence-Poem. pp. 189.5-191.5.
7

Chaplin as Everyman, Chaplin as Subversive

Modern Irony and Chaplin’s Sentimentalilty

‘Machine’ Aesthetics

Discuss Modern Times. Sequence-Poem. pp. 191.5-193.
8

The Psychology of Self-revelation

Time, Change, and the Image in ‘Prufrock’

The Image as Repoistory of Meaning

Eliot, T. S. “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” (download a version of this work from Bartleby.com)
9

The “Mythic Method” and History

The Working Papers to “The Waste Land”, and Ezra Pound’s Editing

Anthropology, Distance, and Irony: “The Golden Bough”

Eliot, T. S. “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” (cont.) (download a version of this work from Bartleby.com)

–––. “The Mythic Method.” (Essay on James Joyce).

10

The Status of Allusion

Speech, Speechlessness, and the Buddha

Conclude Eliot. (download a version of this work from Bartleby.com)

Also Pound. pp. 136-144. (download a version of this work from Americanpoems.com)

11

Williams: “Waste Land” as the “Great Catastrophe”

Free Verse and the American Idiom

“‘Medical’ Aesthetics: Why a ‘Contagious Hospital’?”

Williams, William Carlos. (107 ff, Especially “Spring and All,” and WCW’s Commments About Eliot from His Autobiography). (download a version of this work from Americanpoems.com)
12

Words as Things

Constructionism and Objectivism

The Gendered ‘Gaze’

Class Distinctions in High Modernism

Williams. (cont.) (download a version of this work from Americanpoems.com)

Sandburg. (85 ff). (download a version of this work from Americanpoems.com)

Brooks, Gwendolyn. (349ff). (download a version of this work from the Academy of American Poets)

13-14

Harlem Renaissance

Jazz, Race, and Gender

Toomer, Jean. (220 ff). (download a version of this work from the University of Buffalo)

Giovanni, Nikki. (483 ff). (download a version of this work from the University of Buffalo)

15 Woolf Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. (Section 1). (download a version of this work from the University of Adelaide)
16 Woolf (cont.) Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. (Sections 2 and 3). (download a version of this work from the University of Adelaide)
17

Yeats

Pound

Stevens

Doolittle

Auden

Conquest

Ashbery

Yeats. “Easter 1916.” (40). (download a version of this work from Project Gutenberg)

Pound from Cantos. (“Dioce”) (download a version of this work from)

Stevens. “Anecdote of the Jar.” (94). (download a version of this work from Web-books.com)

Doolittle, Hilda. (144ff). (download a version of this work from Imagists.org)

Auden. “Shield of Achilles,” and “Musee…” (282).

Conquest. “Roqueby Venus.” (354). (download a version of this work from Boston College)

Ashbery. “Instruction Manual.” (419). (download a version of this work from Rice (PDF))

18 Yeats (cont.)

Yeats. “Easter 1916.” (40). 

Yeats. “Sailing to Byzantium.” (45). 
Pay special attention to Stanzas 1-2: What’s the problem?

19 Yeats (cont.) Yeats. “Sailing to Byzantium.”
Pay special attention to Stanzas 3-4: What’s the direction in which to look for the solution? What images suggest a solution?
20

Yeats (cont.)

Stevens

Yeats. “Sailing to Byzantium.” 

Stevens. “Sunday Morning,” and Other Poems. (90ff). 
Pay special attention to Stanzas 1-2: Who is “she” and what are her options?

21 Stevens (cont.) Stevens. “Sunday Morning.” (download a version of this work from Web-books.com) 
Pay special attention to Stanzas 3-4: Displaced Spirituality and Modernist Compensation
22 Stevens (cont.) Stevens. “Sunday Morning.” (download a version of this work from Web-books.com) 
Pay special attention to the final Stanzas and to the Neo-gapnist images at the end: we’ll compare this ending to the conclusions of Keat’s “To Autumn” and to the version of the poem as it first appeared, with the Stanzas renumbered and reorganized, in Poetry magazine
23-25 Student Presentations None

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