Elizabeth Bishop in the Americas
Division I; Difference, Power, and Equity;
Cross-listed as COMP342 / WGSS340 / ENGL340 / AMST340
Elizabeth Bishop has emerged as one of the most important poets of the 20th century. She is admired not only for her dazzling mastery of the craft but also her adventurous life as a world traveler. Her more than two decades living in Brazil and translating the culture and literature of that country for a North American audience, for instance, make her life and work a rich focal point for cross-cultural study. At the center of the course will be Bishop’s stunning meditations on childhood, memory, travel, lesbian sexuality, gender identity, ecology, and race and class in the U.S. and Brazil. We will look at how Bishop intertwines personal and global historical encounters in order to raise serious ethical questions about our shared history of conquest and sense of place in the Americas from the 16th century to the Cold War period of the twentieth. What is ultimately at stake in our claiming of a “home”? We also read a number of the writers in North and South America who were closely connected to Bishop, from Robert Lowell and Ernest Hemingway in North America, to Pablo Neruda and Clarice Lispector in South America. Ultimately, we study how craft, poetic process, and an ethical eye on the world can open up the study of poetry and poetics in the 21st century.
The Class: Type: seminar; seminar, three hours per week, small group discussion, archival research
Requirements/Evaluation: two short papers of 4-5 pages, one longer critical research paper of 10-12 pages, three to four discussion posts (300-500 words)
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: English, Comparative Literature, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, American Studies majors
Distributions: Division I; Difference, Power, and Equity;
Distribution Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under ENGL or COMP; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under AMST or WGSS DPE: This course examines difference, power, and equity in poetry and other writing produced during the Cold War period in the Americas. As the course description indicates, Elizabeth Bishop provides the central focus of our interrogation of questions and constructions of race, class, sexuality, national identity, and power in the U.S. and Brazil during a time of intense exchange between the two nations. This course employs critical tools (case studies, translation theory, archival research, poetics, close reading, comparative approaches, postcolonial theory) to help students question and articulate the way that social injustice, such as racial inequality, poverty, and colonial conquest, shapes national and individual identities. Students will learn how to articulate how our aesthetic and cultural products also serve to shape these identities but also can challenge the dominant power structures.
Attributes: AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives; ENGL Criticism Courses; ENGL Literary Histories C