Tu/Th 11-12:30 87 Dwinelle Instructor: Ramsey McGlazer
In his “Defense of Poetry,” Percy Bysshe Shelley argued that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” In this course, we’ll take Shelley’s claim as a point of departure and proceed to ask how poets have claimed, criticized, contested, and been coopted by power. Our focus will be on poetry from Romanticism to the present, but we will also have occasion to address older poetic forms and practices. What can the persistence of these forms and practices tell us about poetry’s own power, its force? And what should we make of contemporary poetry’s apparent powerlessness? We’ll consider poetic responses to forms of power ranging from fascism and patriarchal domination to capitalist and colonial exploitation and white supremacy. But, like many of the poets whose works we’ll study, we will remain mindful of the ways in which these different forms of power often overlap and operate simultaneously, depending on and reinforcing one another. What can poets do—and what have they done—to register and resist these interconnecting realities? And how might these realities make their way even into those poems where we’d least expect to find them? We’ll study poems, essays, and films by Adorno, Carson, D’Annunzio, Dickinson, Keats, Pasolini, Philip, Rankine, Rocha, Vallejo, and Woolf, among others.