E 392M • IRISH POETRY: POLITICS OF FORM
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
Irish Poetry: The Politics of Form. Elizabeth Cullingford This course will focus on Irish poetry from the 1890s to the present day. We shall follow a trajectory from Celticism through modernism to postmodernism using the work of W.B.Yeats, Louis MacNeice, Patrick Kavanagh, Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Paul Muldoon, Eavan Boland, Rita Ann Higgins, and Paula Meehan. I have two aims: first, to explore the extent to which poetry, often considered the most subjective of genres, is produced by a particular historical and cultural matrix; and second, to analyze how political and cultural experience is mediated through the poet's formal practices. Form itself is not atemporal; it has a history. For example, we shall be interested both in the meter and stanza of a ballad and in Irish ballads as traditional vehicles for political resistance. We shall investigate the intimate connection between poetry and the fight against colonialism in the work of Yeats; and the later feminist reaction, spearheaded by Eavan Boland, against the poetic representation of women as icons of the national struggle. I will assume no prior knowledge of Ireland or of poetics: those who have never heard of Parnell and cannot distinguish ottava rima from rime royale will emerge, I hope, with both a working knowledge of twentieth-century Irish cultural politics and improved close reading skills. My premise is that the gap between formalist and political criticism is an artificial one, and is based on an unnecessarily exclusive, either/or model of what critics can do. TEXTS Yeats, William Butler, Collected Poems Heaney, Seamus, Selected Poems Muldoon, Paul, ed. Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry Course packet containing contemporary poems and historical and theoretical material. At Jenn's, on the drag underneath the Scientologists. Requirements: term paper; one seminar presentation; weekly reading journals.