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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2005

E 314J • Literature and Geography

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
31345 TTh
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
GEO 3.222

Course Description

When is a poem a map? How do landscape and language influence one another? What does it mean to go on a poetic voyage of discovery? These are some of the questions we will address in this section of E 314J.

This is a course in reading and analyzing poetry, as well as thinking about geography, space, and place. The majority of our readings will come from 20th-century poets, but we will also read selections from much earlier works, as well as essays on human geography, urban theory, and cartography. The course is organized into four primary units:

Unit 1: Poetry as Cartography. In this unit we will examine and discuss maps, along with excerpts from Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines and a variety of short poems. We will also discuss the fundamentals of poetic form.

Unit 2: Geographic Metaphors. In this unit, we will examine the poetic use of several geographic figures—the globe, the coast, a mountain, an island—to discuss how metaphor expands our understanding of the poem’s subject, and how features of the landscape can carry descriptive weight.

Unit 3: The Poet in the Landscape. Poets have often celebrated their physical environments and the ways of life these environments provide. In this unit we will examine country (or pastoral) poems and city poems.

Unit 4: Voyages of Discovery. In our final unit, we will examine poetry dealing with the complications of travel, of discovery, and the history of geographic and literary conquest.

Grading Policy

Paper 1, 10%
Paper 2, 20%
In-class presentation 10%
Paper 3, 35%
Participation 10%
Homework 10%
Weekly quizzes 5%


Elizabeth Bishop’s The Complete Poems
Packet of readings by John Donne, William Wordsworth, Wallace Stevens, Langston Hughes, Frank O’Hara, Derek Walcott, Robert Hass, Bruce Chatwin, Lewis Mumford, J. B. Harley, and Mary Louise Pratt, among others.


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