Feminist poetry and feminist politics were so integrated in the 1960s and 1970s in America that critical essays on poets, such as Adrienne Rich and Audre Lorde, appeared in the same handbook that listed such resources for women as rape crisis centers and health clinics. This course will map the crucial alliance between feminist politics (and its major cultural and political gains) and the feminist poetry movement that became a major “tool” for building, organizing, and theorizing second-wave feminism. In order to track this political and poetic revolution, we will take an interdisciplinary approach that brings together historical, critical, and literary documents (including archival ones) and visual products (through the Object Lab of the Williams College Art Museum) that recreate the rich context of the period and help us consider the important social nature of aesthetic production. At the center of the course will be writings of major poets of the period, as well as anthologies and feminist periodicals that published their work and created a significant forum and shared space for women to articulate the politics and poetics of change. These periodicals and anthologies will also help us track the diversity of the feminist poetry movement and its intersection with issues of race, class, ethnicity, and sexuality. Ultimately, we will want to consider how poetry serves as an important tool for thinking through questions of power and injustice and what role it plays in creating necessary imaginative space in the world for expression, critique, and change.
Format: seminar; discussion, some lecture, project work in archives and art gallery
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
three analysis papers (4-5 pages), creative (1-2 pages), discussion posts (5 pages), curated final project (archival exhibit with 7-page paper), presentations
Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
Writing skills taught through a series of assignments evenly spaced throughout the semester: weekly p/f discussion posts, three four-to-five-page graded papers, one creative assignment, and a final digital research project (10-page equivalent; peer reviewed). Students receive critical feedback on written assignments a week prior to due date through conferences and Google Docs and on final graded assignments within one week with sufficient time between assignments to improve the next assignment.
The course examines the effects of class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality on both poetry and the movement and how women negotiated their differences within the movement, as well as in response to the dominant patriarchal culture. This course employs critical tools (feminist theory, archival research, poetics, close reading, comparative approaches) to help students question and articulate the social injustices that led to the poetry and poetics of the Women's Liberation Movement.
AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives
ENGL Criticism Courses
EXPE Experiential Education Courses
WGSS Racial Sexual + Cultural Diversity Courses
WGSS Theory Courses