English 389b
Kim Benston
TTH 1 - 2:30


Problems in Poetics:  Longing, Loss, and the Lyric 

An examination of theoretical issues and presentational strategies in various verse structures from Ovid to Bishop.  Through close readings of strategically grouped texts and recurrent lyric figures, tropes, and topoi (e.g., in Narcissus, Orphic, and Ulysses poems; in the dramatic monologue; in the sonnet and elegy; in the sublime; in vernacular performances and their expressive revisions), the course will explore the interplay of tradition and innovation with close attention to rhetorics of desire, mourning, and restitution.  Issues for study include: allusion and intertextuality; genre and/as 'meaning'; convention and cliché; invention and revision; origination and self-presentation.  Practical criticism and discussion of the tools needed for explication will lead to theoretical analyses of interpretive modes and the stance of the interpreter.

Course Requirements:

•brief exercises; one short paper (5-7 pp.); one longer paper (12-15 pp.)

•a desire to engage in collective meditation about a wide range of poetic texts and conceptual issues

•participation in communal convulsions of close reading and spasms of surmise


NOTE:  This course fulfills the pre-1800 requirement.

*This class has a limited enrollment of 15