E 318L • Poetic Narrative in Verse and Prose
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
Narratives in prose and verse help define our world. Modernist poetry and fiction has often over-lapped to make new narratives that engage diverse communities of readers. This course will introduce students to formal, rhetorical, and material strategies for writing verse and prose narratives.
Unit One: Form and Narrative Innovation--This unit will introduce some verse and prose forms. We will look at traditional metrics in English poetry and discuss how different poets have used prosody. We will also discuss prose style and its relation to poetry in terms of rhythm, word choice, pace, and other narrative elements. Students will experiment with metrical forms and do imitations of prose styles as we explore some of the formal options available to writers. Our readings in this unit will focus on a few poets of the English Renaissance and Romantic periods, as well as major twentieth-century poets like William Carlos Williams and Gertrude Stein. The writing of Brazilian "concrete" poets like Heraldo de Campos will also be discussed as a way to understand the relationship between sound and visual representations on the page. We also will look at prose selections from Johnson, Coleridge, D. H. Lawrence, Robert Creeley, and Samuel Beckett.
Unit Two: The Purpose of Narrative--In this unit students will be asked to consider the rhetorical purpose of prose or verse narratives. To whom do we write poems? How will a poem or prose narrative affect a reader? To answer these questions we will discuss rhetorical strategies available to writers and discuss how to create a strong sense of ethos in the works we write. We will also think about how narratives can make arguments about the world. The writers we look at in this unit can be broadly characterized in two different ways: the first group works from a meditative tradition, using the journal or diary to structure poetic narratives. The other group writes for social occasions, arguing for political and social transformation. Some writers we'll look at include Emily Dickinson, James Schuyler, Mahmoud Darwish, Semezdin Mehmedinovic, and Lorine Neidecker. Students in this unit will explore rhetorical strategies in the creation of their verse or prose narratives.
Unit Three: The Material Production of Narrative--Finally, in this unit we will investigate how material production influences the narratives we read. We will look at work by Denton Welch, Jack Kerouac, Blaise Cendrars, and other modernists whose work is collected in the Harry Ransom Center. As a class we will visit the collection to look at manuscripts, privately printed chapbooks, first book editions, and correspondences in order to see how the material production of a work of writing changes. In this unit students will complete a narrative project and explore material methods of presentation. We will talk about what to do with a prose or verse narrative once it is written and discuss ways in which communities of writers share work and support each other to ensure that their narratives reach a substantial audience.