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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: Poetry, Politics and Place (ENLI10202)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course considers how poetry helps us explore large and urgent questions of individual and cultural identity (particularly the ways identity may be thought of in gendered, racial, regional and national terms), how we engage in community, and the various power-relations that constitute the modern nation-state. Throughout the course we will also examine the various ways in which our selected poets have explored these issues of individual identity, cultural value and social authority by figuring and refiguring ideas of "landscape" and "place".
Course description The focus in the seminars will be on collective close readings of some of the most important, stylistically distinctive and politically urgent poets of the twentieth and twenty-first century, supplemented by contextual introductions each week by the Course Organiser, and selected critical essays uploaded to LEARN for very writer intended to develop your understanding of all 9 poets on the course. The aim of the seminars is to go slowly and deeply into the texts, encouraging student contribution, developing their interpretative and close-reading skills, and encouraging students to think individually and collectively about the politics of interpretation and the interpretation of politics. The poets on the course have been chosen both for their stylistic singularity and brilliance and for the way they provide fascinating individual perspectives on a series of shared course themes: Geoffrey Hill's Mercian Hymns develops an intriguing and unsettling imaginative parallel between the violent emergence of a primitive form of the English state in the Eighth Century and post-1945 English notions of nation, power and place; Elizabeth Bishop and Seamus Heaney explore ideas of archaeology, map-making, cultural mythology, imperial history, internal exile and racial and sectarian difference to rethink questions of power and identity through a post-colonial lens; Sylvia Plath rewrites the forms and assumptions of patriarchy by developing a new mythic vision of female creativity; Mark Doty seeks to queer notions of American identity, community and cultural value by reframing the contemporary American moment through the history of the AIDS epidemic; Michael Ondaatje presents a revisionist and wholly original re-reading of the American outlaw Billy the Kid to explore the role of cultural myths, desires and anxieties in the formation of national self-representations; John Ashbery examines the various ways we now construct our ideas of the "self" in the time of postmodern media and technology; Claudia Rankine explores the fraught, often tragic, relation between the African-American subject and ideas of American "dreaming" and citizenship in the time of Black Lives Matter; while Terrance Hayes continues this focus on how the black subject might try to live in an anti-black world by exploring the politics of race in the age of Donald Trump.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( Literary Studies 1A (ENLI08020) AND Literary Studies 1B (ENLI08021) AND Literary Studies 2A: English Literature in the World, 1380-1788 (ENLI08024) AND Literary Studies 2B: English Literature in the World, post-1789 (ENLI08025)) OR ( English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) OR Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016) AND English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) OR Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Essential course texts.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Other Study Hours 11, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) 1 hour per week autonomous learning
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 2000 word coursework essay (30%) submitted mid-semester;
plus 3000 word final essay submitted during exam period (70%).

OR: Alternative model: alternative coursework assessment (30%)
+ 3000 word final essay submitted at end of semester / in exam period (70%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Students will gain an understanding of modern poetic techniques, including verse forms, syntax and prosody.
  2. Students will gain an awareness of the complex relation between politics and aesthetics.
Reading List
Week 1 Course Introduction
Week 2 Constructing a Nation:
Geoffrey Hill, Mercian Hymns
Week 3 Poetics of the Post-Colonial Margins:
Elizabeth Bishop, Collected Poems
Week 4 (Post)-Colonial Archaeologies:
Seamus Heaney, Selected Poems
Week 5 Writing Back to Daddy:
Sylvia Plath, Selected Poems
Week 7 Queering the Nation:
Mark Doty, Sweet Machine
Week 8 Once Upon a Time in the West:
Michael Ondaatje, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
Week 10 Postmodern Culture and the Dream Factory:
John Ashbery, Selected Poems
Week 11 A Poet in the Time of 'Black Lives Matter':
Claudia Rankine, Citizen
Week 12 The Subject of Blackness in an Anti-Black World:
Terrance Hayes, American Sonnets for my Past and Future Assassin
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements Numbers are limited to 15, with priority given to students taking degrees involving English or Scottish Literature and Visiting Students placed by the Admissions Office. Students not in these categories need the written approval of the Head of English Literature before enrolling. In the case of excess applications places will be decided by ballot.
Additional Class Delivery Information 2 hour(s) per week for 10 week(s). 1 hour a week attendance at Autonomous Learning Group - times to be arranged
KeywordsENLI10202 Poetry,Politics,Place
Course organiserDr Lee Spinks
Tel: (0131 6)50 3616
Course secretaryMiss Kara McCormack
Tel: (0131 6)50 3030
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