Innovation Hall 328
Section Information for Spring 2017
A course devoted to the Romantic poet John Keats and to an exploration of the “afterlives” of Keats at work in modern, recent and contemporary American poetry and poetics, with a special focus on the sometimes surprising affiliations between Keats and contemporary experimental poetics. We’ll spend about half our time reading widely in Keats’s poetry and letters, paying particular attention to Keats’s habits of reading and composition; his thinking about imagination, creativity, poetic identity and the social role of poetry; Keats’s “style” and its meaning; and his exchanges with other Romantic writers. We’ll spend the other half of our time tracing some of the varied ways in which “Keats” (understood as poet, as set of poems, as style, or as ideas about poetry) figures in twentieth- and twenty-first poetry, mostly but not exclusively American.
As the critic Andrew Bennet observes, Keats is “the Romantic poet who is perhaps most often and most intimately evoked by contemporary poets.”Chameleon-poet that he is, Keats plays different roles for different poets at different times: working-class tough or dreamy aesthete; icon of tradition, or patron saint to outsiders breaking in; Romantic or anti-Romantic; lyric or anti-lyric; high art or kitsch; gender-normed or gender-fluid, and so on. Our emphasis won’t be on lines of influence so much as connections, parallels, appropriations, echoes, oppositions, and reworkings of his poetry and his poetics.
Poets we’ll read might include Amy Lowell, Wallace Stevens, Lorine Niedecker, Charles Olson, John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, John Berryman, Adrienne Rich, Amiri Baraka, Amy Clampitt, Philip Levine, Robert Grenier, Charles Bernstein, Lyn Hejinian, Michael Harper, Anne Carson, Jorie Graham, Mark Doty, Mary Ruefle, Brenda Hillman, Tom Clark, Fred Moten, Mark Levine, Martin Corless-Smith, Juliana Spahr, Anne Boyer, Dan Beachy-Quick, Lisa Robertson, Keston Sutherland. These juxtapositions will give us a chance to think more generally about theories of lyric, voice, song, and poetic making; about modernity, tradition, and experiment; about reading, reception, and transmission; about what Romanticism means for poets writing today, and how contemporary poetry helps us read Romanticism.