Writing Looking: Ekphrasis & Poetics
Division I; Writing-Intensive;
“As is painting, so is poetry,” wrote the Roman poet Horace. This comparison would be clarifying, if it weren’t so maddeningly opaque. Why, and how, should we compare the verbal to the visual? When poets write about looking, they address not only formal contrasts between the arts but also the fundamental concerns of representation that these contrasts make visible: the eternizing aspirations of art; the relationship between body and soul; the interplay of politics and aesthetics; the power dynamics of gazing at gendered and raced bodies; and the processes of identification and objectification. In this course, we will survey a range of texts that respond to works of visual art and to the act of looking itself. The long history of comparisons between the verbal and the visual constitutes a major strand of literary theory and criticism from antiquity to modernity. Our goal will be to study how such questions of representational rivalry are continuous with questions about how we live with things, and with each other. We will read authors from the historical canon, like Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Spenser, Shakespeare, Keats, Browning, and Melville; and poets from the recent past and present, like W. H. Auden, Frank O¿Hara, Thom Gunn, John Ashbery, Adrienne Rich, Jorie Graham, Fred Moten, and Claudia Rankine.
The Class: Type: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: five 4-page papers; participation in class discussions; one in-class presentation
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
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 Preference: first- and second-year students, and English majors who have yet to take a Gateway course
Distributions: Division I; Writing-Intensive;
Distribution Notes: WI: This course will require five 4-page papers, for a total of 20 pages of formal writing.
Attributes: ENGL 200-level Gateway Courses; ENGL Literary Histories A; ENGL Literary Histories C;