21L.701 Literary Interpretation: Beyond the Limits of the Lyric

Fall 2006

Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu at sunrise. (Photo by Allard Schmidt and taken from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. http://www.wikipedia.org/.)

Course Highlights

This course features a detailed description of assignments and an extensive reading list.

Course Description

In this seminar we'll read individual poems closely within a set of questions about the moral and political position of poetry -- and of intellectuals -- in different cultural contexts. Of course, part of the divergence in the social positions of poetry [and of 'the aesthetic'] depends on the dominant paradigm of the social, political and literary culture; part of the divergence derives from the momentum of literary development in the culture [how did the culture experience modernism?, for instance], and part depends on the different attitudes toward traditional form. We read poets from North America (Whitman, Williams, Lowell, Plath, Bishop), from South America (Neruda), from Western Europe (Yeats), and Eastern Europe (Akhmatova, Szymborska); we conclude with a month dedicated to the work of the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, who won the Nobel Prize for literature (the first to win from a position of exile) in 1980.
Donate Now


Prof. Stephen Tapscott

Course Meeting Times

One session / week
3 hours / session