Introduction to Poetry [CRN 77141]

Discipline: English
Instructor: Serio
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1510
End: 1630
Field Work: Day 5 - Livorno - Friday, 30 September | Italy
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

Utilizing often sensuous imagery, poetry has the power to evoke in us both genuine feeling and introspective reflection. It provides a way to explore the complexities of our own existence as well as to step outside ourselves to understand others. This is especially important on our voyage to nearly a dozen countries, each with its own distinctive culture and history. Just as students will learn to exercise their imagination to experience poetry’s often complex and challenging viewpoints, they will see how their imagination is key to understanding and appreciating other people, customs, and beliefs. The course will focus on the development of critical skills necessary to understand and enjoy poetry. Students will be exposed to a rich and diverse selection of poems from many cultures, countries, and eras. They will read poems from different literary periods and assess their relevance today. They will study several poets in depth, exploring how their unique style and vision alter our understanding of ourselves and our world. As students become sensitive to the nuances of context, tone, imagery, metaphor, symbol, form, and diction, they will enlarge their sensibilities and sharpen their creative capabilities. Through class discussion and expository writing assignments, they will improve their critical thinking and writing skills.

Field Work

Country: Italy
Day: 5 - Livorno - Friday, 30 September

In the morning we will meet with Professor Massimo Bacigalupo, University of Genoa, who is a specialist in British and American literature. He will discuss the influence of Italian literature on American poetry, especially on the poetry of T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, initiators of the movement in literature called “modernism.” Students will learn about the significant shift in the arts that occurred during this period and the effect such classic works as Dante’s Inferno had on changing the course of American poetry. Professor Bacigalupo, who has just edited a dual-language volume of the complete poetry of Wallace Stevens, will also describe the challenges of literary translation, especially that of poetry. After lunch, we will tour important sites in Livorno to gain insight into its cultural, historic, and artistic significance. After returning to the ship, we will discuss the impact of this in-port encounter on what we have learned about the influence of classic Italian literature on modern American poetry as well as the complexities involved in literary translation. Learning objectives:

  1. To learn about “modernism,” the great shift in the arts as exemplified in poetry that occurred around 1912 and continued to after WWII
  2. To appreciate the influence of Italian literature on American poetry during this period
  3. To recognize the challenges of literary translation, especially of poetry
  4. To gain a deeper sense of Italian culture, history and art by touring sites in Livorno