ENGL 319
Sensational Poetry Spring 2015
Division I
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“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry,” writes Emily Dickinson. Lyric poems turn the most evanescent sensory experiences into words, giving them a seductive materiality that we can hear, see, touch, taste, and smell. Lyric poems are personal and communal, immediate and eternal, conversational and incantatory. “A poem begins with a lump in the throat,” Robert Frost remarks, for “a complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought, and the thought has found the words.” This course explores shifts in poetic conventions and material culture from Neoplatonic idealization to sexual seduction, from manuscript transmission to print and internet. We will read reflections on poetry and the senses from Plato and Aristotle to Julia Kristeva and Susan Stewart, and lots of sensational poetry by Renaissance, modern, and contemporary poets such as Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare, John Donne, Ben Jonson, George Herbert, T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, William Yeats, Richard Wilbur, Mark Strand, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, and Li-Young Lee.
The Class: Format: discussion
Limit: 25
Expected: 15
Class#: 3630
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: journal entries and a final 10-12 page paper
Prerequisites: a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam
Enrollment Preferences: English majors (and aspiring poets)
Distributions: Division I
Attributes: ENGL Literary Histories C

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