01 TTH5 CAC 36551 MCGILL MU-208
Two nineteenth-century American poets have justifiably achieved worldwide renown: Walt Whitman, whose radical experiments in representing sex and democracy and with the poetic line inspired some of the most important avant-garde twentieth-century writing; and Emily Dickinson, who undermined poetic tradition from within and has been claimed as a literary foremother by generations of women poets. But nineteenth-century poetry was more than a prelude to modernist experimentation. Poets wrote to celebrate the conquest of Indian lands and to protest slavery; they sought to define the beautiful, to question the sex/ gender system, to represent national values, to reflect on the crisis of the Civil War, to mourn the dead, and to heal sectional division.
In this course we will study the poetry of Whitman and Dickinson alongside that of a number of American poets whose poems are worth remembering, including William Cullen Bryant, Lydia Sigourney, George Moses Horton, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Elizabeth Oakes Smith, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Herman Melville, Helen Hunt Jackson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Sidney Lanier.
Students will write three short papers and complete a take-home final exam. Classes are discussion-based, therefore attendance is required; only two absences are permitted without penalty.