Thursday, 22 June 2006

Syllabus Bleg: Poetry & Social Crisis [X-posted.] As her name suggests, The Little Womedievalist lives in the sparsely populated academic “ghetto” known as “medieval studies.” (A wonderful place to visit, but I didn’t want to live there.) Thing is, when medievalists tip-toe into the 15th Century, they’re often paralyzed by the unfamiliar literary landscape. “Whither my rigid poetic forms? And feudalism! What have you people done with feudalism?” Medievalists are confused, nay, mortified by the shiny baubles and the steam which periodically issues from them. So sometimes they need us soon-to-be-unemployed/forever-unemployable modern-types after all, like when they want to write a syllabus on “The Poetry of Crisis.” Below the fold you’ll find The Little Womedievalist’s skeletal syllibi. Lots of war, lots of plague. The word “pandemic” appears no less than seventeen times. She’d appreciate any advice that’ll help her “flesh it out.” (O how quickly our dead metaphors are enlivened!) Here (in no particular order) are the topics she wants to address: Irish potato famine WWII Vietnam War Influenza pandemic of 1918 Revolutionary War French Revolution (poems written in English) AIDS pandemic Cold War/ Communist Scare/ McCarthy States of anarchy/ regime changes Great Depression (I only have Agee and Evans so far…) Current “war on terror”/ Iraq/ Afghanistan/ post-9/11 Any other major political/social/religous crises Here is what she has so far: Weeks 1 – 3 (Social and political crises) William Blake - “The Tyger,” ; Selections from Prophet Against Empire (David Erdman) Middle English Plowman poems Agee and Evans, selections from “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men”; background reading on the Great Depression “Tax Hath Tenet Us Alle” (Short ME macaronic poem) “Introduction” from The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry, ed. and intro by Jon Silkin (on reserve). [Though we won’t be covering all of the poets discussed in Silkin’s intro, this will outline a number of the critical questions and issues we want to ask about the poems we will be reading during weeks 4 and 5.] Weeks 4 & 5 (War, Rebellion, Unrest, Protest) Michael Drayton, “The Battle of Agincourt” (ERP 261) Milton, “On the Late Massacre in Piedmont” (Background Reading.) Yeats – “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death” Melville – “The Portent,” “Shiloh” Walt Whitman – “Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night,” “Twenty-eight Young Men Bathed By the Shore,” selections from “Drum Taps” Thomas Hardy – “Drummer Hodge,” Wilfred Owen – “Dulce et Decorum Est,” Siegfried Sassoon – Charles Hamilton Sorley – “When You See Millions of the Mouthless Dead” Edward Thomas – “A Private” Weeks 6 & 7 (Pandemics, Poverty and Famine; mortality & carpe diem poems) Lydgate Thomas Nashe – “In time of plague,” “Autumn Hath all the Summer’s Fruitful Treasure” Robert Herrick, “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” The AIDS pandemic – the poetic response The 1918 Influenza pandemic, and poetic response The Irish Potato Famine, and poetic response Weeks 8 & 9 (Crises of conscience) Fulke Greville John Donne (esp. the Holy Sonnets) Emily Dickinson – From “Time and Eternity,” “TO know...

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