English 180L

Lyric Verse

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2017 O'Brien, Geoffrey G.

TTh 2-3:30 140 Barrows Renaissance and Early Modern
British 18th-Century
British 19th-Century
British 20th- and 21st-Century
American Literature
Literary Theory

Book List

Course Reader


This course will examine the historical trajectory of a very fuzzy category, “lyric,” from its identified origins and early practice in antiquity (Sappho, Catullus, et al.) to its 20th and 21st century rejections and rehabilitations (all the way up to last year’s Citizen by Claudia Rankine, whose subtitle is “An American Lyric”). Rather than define the term decisively, we will attempt to amass data about what kinds of contents and formal features have been associated with lyric over time and how poets have responded to that growing archive when contributing new instances of such verse. Along the way, we will also consider several theorizations and histories of lyric practice, including the idea that the very category has become a useless or even misrepresentative synonym for “poetry” that collapses multiple verse genres.

All poems and essays will be drawn from a course reader available at Metro Publishing on Bancroft by the 2nd class meeting.

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