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

Fall 2005

E 314L • Poesis: The Making of Literature (CANCELLED!)

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
32335 MWF
12:00 PM-1:00 PM

Course Description

Poesis, the Greek root of the word poetry, means making. What, then, does poetry make? Shakespeare, writing in the early 1600s, suggests that the poet creates a monument to protect himself or herself against the rage of death. Wallace Stevens, a 20th century poet, attributes rage to the poet instead of the world around him: a rage for order causes one to write in order to make sense of the chaotic surrounding world. In the past twenty years, deconstruction theory has posited that poetry makes nothing: how could it, when words are just arbitrary signs, with no real attachment to the things they stand for in the world? Can poetry do anything?

We will examine how major poetic movements during the last four hundred years have tackled this question. We'll begin with the sonnets of the Elizabethan and Jacobean courts, and examine some formal aspects of how poetry is made (and what it in turn is supposed to make). Moving forward to the Romantics, we'll study ideas about poetic genius and the use of poetry as a moral device. Stopping by the Victorian period, we'll talk about poetry's function for a community. And finally, we'll examine the work of modern poets and articulate their projects through the lenses of several theoretic approaches: New Critical, deconstructionist, post colonial, and psychoanalytic.

Grading Policy

Two two-page papers 15% each
Five-page paper 30%
Reading journal 30%
Daily grade 10%


Ferguson, Margaret, Jon Stallworthy, and Mary Jo Salter, eds. The Norton Anthology of Poetry, Shorter Fifth Edition, W.W. Norton and Co., 2005.
Course packet.


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