ENGL 258
Poetry and the City Fall 2009
Division I Writing Skills
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Class Details

In this course we will consider poems generated out of the experiences of urban life. The city provides for poets a vivid mental and imaginative landscape in which to consider the relation of vice and squalor to glamour; the nature of anonymity and distinction; and the pressure of myriad bodies on individual consciousness. We will explore ways in which the poet’s role in the body politic emerges in representations of the city as a site both of civilized values and/or struggles for power marked by guile and betrayal. Taking into account the ways in which cities have been transformed over time by changing social and economic conditions, we will consider such issues as what the New York of the 1950s has to do with the London of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and why poetry as a genre might be particularly suited to representing the shifting aspects of urban life. Poets will include Dante, Pope, Swift, Blake, Wordsworth, Whitman, Baudelaire, Arnold, Yeats, Crane, Moore, Auden, Hughes, Bishop, Ginsberg, Baraka, and Ashbery. We will also draw on essays by Simmel, Benjamin, Williams, and Canetti, photographs by Hines, Weegee, and Abbott; the blues, as sung by Holliday and Vaughan; and films such as Man with a Movie Camera, Rear Window, and Breathless.
The Class: Format: discussion/seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 1648
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: four or five short essays, including at least one revision
Prerequisites: a 100-level English course
Enrollment Preferences: sophomores and English majors who have yet to take a Gateway
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
Attributes: AMST Arts in Context Electives
ENGL 200-level Gateway Courses

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