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Russian and American Poetic Encounters
REES 222
Spring 2024
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: RULE 222, RUSS 222, ENGL 238, WLIT 267

The fascination of Russian poets with American authors, and the curiosity of Anglophone poets about the culture of Russia and the USSR, are trends that accompany the turbulent twentieth century, when the political relationships between Russia and the USA were largely inimical. But it was also a period when poetry mattered. In this course, we will focus on some of the most significant poets of the twentieth century.

We will study six Russian poets (Vladimir Mayakovsky, Boris Pasternak, Osip Mandelstam, Joseph Brodsky, Olga Sedakova, and Arkadii Dragomoshchenko), and six American poets (William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, John Ashbery, and Lyn Hejinian), and also one Caribbean poet (Derek Walcott).

We will learn how to analyze lyric poetry, and how to study it comparatively. We will explore the poets' dialogues with each other across cultures. For example, we will learn how Mayakovsky's "ladder" might have influenced Williams' vers libre, or how Joseph Brodsky learned T. S. Eliot's theory of impersonality in poetry even though Eliot was banned in the USSR. We will also explore where poetry and politics meet. For example, we will discuss why Langston Hughes found his visit to the USSR inspirational as an African-American poet, and we will see whether the myth that Robert Frost's visit to the USSR contributed to the Cuban Missile Crisis is true.

The course is taught in English. No knowledge of Russian is required.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA REES
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ENGL)(ENGL-Creative W)(REES-Lang/Lit/C)
Past Enrollment Probability: 75% - 89%

Last Updated on APR-19-2024
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