ENG 466: Modern American Poetry
Personal and political, local and global, difficult and accessible, lyrical and experimental, polished and (ostensibly) improvised, sacred and secular, familiar and estranging: these are some of the axes with which we can plot the trajectories of modern and postmodern American poetry. This Winter Quarter, we will explore those trajectories through extensive readings in four contrasting African American poets: Robert Hayden, Lucille Clifton, Nathaniel Mackey, and Harryette Mullen. We will situate their work in a range of literary and cultural contexts, including Eliotic and popular modernism, the Black Arts Movement, the New American Poetry (especially the work of Robert Duncan and Charles Olson), Language poetry, and the French group Oulipo. We will read selections from the authors’ prose (essays, memoirs, fiction, criticism) as well as their verse, and when possible we will explore their on-line audio and video presences through PennSound, the Poetry Foundation, and other archives.
(We'll see how it goes. Hayden and Clifton I've taught many times before; Mullen not in a decade, maybe; Mackey, never before. All advice appreciated!)