Study of works drawn from a specific literary genre or subgenre. Examples include Confessional Poetry, The Early Novel and Revenge Tragedy.
Current Semester InformationHarry Brown
Genre: Advanced Topics: Environmental Crisis Narratives
This course explores the nexus of apocalyptic belief, literary imagination, and contemporary environmental crisis. In a selection of fables, memoirs, scientific nonfiction, and speculative fiction, we will survey the cultural origins, formal elements, and variations of what has emerged as the dominant narrative of the human future. In the broadest sense, this narrative describes anthropogenic disequilibrium in the planetary ecosystem. Although secular in its vision, the story of environmental crisis draws its rhetorical and emotional force from millennialist tradition, synthesizing eschatology with modern science. Projections of deforestation, resource depletion, pollution, the loss of biodiversity, climate change and consequent social and political upheavals function as apocalyptic myth, orienting the present "anthropocene" moment to the totality of history, and drawing past transgressions into concord with future retribution and renewal. The course does not seek to debunk narratives of environmental crisis as figments of the imagination but rather to discover the cultural roots of these narratives and to reach a deeper understanding of the historical and literary dimensions of contemporary environmentalism.
Genre: Advanced Topics: Poetics
Poetics are theories of poetry that most often come from poets themselves. This course will look at poetic theories of American poets from the early 20th century, a few international poets and modern and contemporary writers. Our discussion will be far ranging, but we'll begin with basic questions: What is a poem? What are poems supposed to do? What is a poem's relationship with language? What is a poem's relationship to form? How has technology and media reshaped this ancient genre of writing which began as an oral, mnemonic form of storytelling? How (or should) a poem reflect politics? How is the poet's circumstance engaged by the poem? How does the imagination work?
Students will write papers about various poetic theories, they will write about the work of individual poets, and finally by the courses end, they will propose their own poetic theories.