Charles Bernstein

Postwar American Poetry (1945-1975)


charles.bernstein @ english.upenn.edu

This course is part of a sequence with the other English 288 (Revolution of the Word: Modernist American Poetry 1900-1940) and English 62, (20th Century Poetry, But Not from the U.S.) and English 262 (contemporary poety, 1975-present). In Spring 2010, I will be teaching English 288(1900-1940) and a related writing course, English 111 . English 111 is a small class and fills up quickly; preference will be given to students from English 88/288/62. 288 is of course a different class than Fall 2009 288 and will have a different name and can be taken by those now in 288.

Required Books (on-line, though you can get a few at Penn Book Center)
Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology, ed. Paul Hoover

English 288 in an introduction to postwar American poetry (1945-1975) – the Beats, San Francisco Renaissance, Black Mountain, Confessional, Black Arts, Chance, Talk, Performance, & New York School: poetry on and off the page, near and at the edge. Extensive use will be made of sound files of the poets readings their poems. Several sessions will be devoted to class discussion with visiting poets. English 288 is a discussion-based course, with much supplemental material available on our website. The course requirements consist of a weekly journal response to the readings and a creative/interactive experiment on one or more of the assigned poems (such as imitating, rewriting, performing, or reordering the poem). No previous experience with poetry required. Permission of the instructor is required: email with a brief note about why you are interested in the course.

This "reading workshop" is less concerned with analysis or explanation of individual poems than with finding ways to intensify the experience of poetry, of the poetic, through a consideration of how the different styles and structures and forms of contemporary poetry can affect the way we see and understand the world.

The syllabus details assigned readings for each session, focused in a way that makes the overall reading manageable. If multiple poets are assigned for a single meeting, the syllabus will suggests that you focus on one or two poems for each of the poets. Note , though, that much of the syllabus provides extensive information for further, entirely optional, readings and research. Finally the syllabus provides a set of questions for each set of readings: keep in mind these are only suggestions for your responses, not questions you are required to answer.

The readings for this workshop are extensive and cannot all be discussed in class. The concept is for you to saturate yourself in 20th-century American poetry.

The syllabus remains in formation throughout the period of the class, in response to changing conditions.. Please be sure to check here for updates and changes.

Please notify me immediately if you find any bad links or have difficulty playing any soound files.

Poetry on the Web
Check out the Electronic Poetry Center and PennSound.
Reading and listening assignments from the web are listed in the syllabus. When an author is listed as at the EPC, go to "author" (epc.buffalo.edu/authors) section and then to the specific poet. Ubuweb is another important web source.
Gale Literature Resource Center  
Literary Encyclopedia
Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
Twentieth-Century American Poetry
University of Illinois;s Modern American Poetry (MAP) author pages provides excellent critical writing on many of the poets.
LION has full-text versions of many of 20th century poets; LION is accessible through the library's electronic resource page. I have often linked to poems on LION or indicated if the poet's work is avaiable via LION.
Twentieth Century American Poets, via library e-resourses: very useful selection.
Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, via library e-resources: look for full text selection only.
Gale's Literary Rescource Center is a very useful collection of biograpical sketches or most of the poets covered in this course. While I have linked author names to either EPC or Wiki pages, which are publically available, DLB often offers extensive reviews and commentary not available to the public. Best way to get started is to go to the basic search and choose "person".
"Further Reading" on poetics for "The Practice of Poetics"

Poetry at Penn and in Philadelphia
The Kelly Writers House, which is part of the Center for Program in Contemporary Writiting, has many readings and related activities. I will send out notices of readings at KWH and in Philadelphia, via the class listserve; and each of you is also welcome to post such announcements to the list. The best way to appreciate older poetry is to immerse yourself in contemporary poetry, so consider any poetry reading you attend as part of this class and includes reports and comments in your weekly responses and on the list.