Studies in Poetry

Discipline: Special Topics in Literature
Instructor: Serio
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1550
End: 1710
Field Work: Day 6 - Cape Town - Wednesday, 2 April | South Africa Download Syllabus

“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry,” writes Emily Dickinson. As one of the most compressed art forms, poetry relies on rich and sensuous imagery to convey meaningful experiences that have the power to evoke in us both genuine feeling and deep, often philosophical, thought. As with all art, poetry provides a mechanism to explore the complexities of our own existence as well as to step outside ourselves to understand others. This is especially important in our voyage around the world, as students will be asked to utilize their imagination to relate to foreign cultures, customs, and beliefs. Students will learn the art of reading—and enjoying—poetry. They will be exposed to a rich and diverse selection from many cultures, countries, and ethnicities. As students attend to the nuances of context, tone, imagery, metaphor, symbol, form, and diction, they will expand their sensibilities and sharpen their imaginative capabilities. Through class discussion and various writing assignments, they will also improve their critical thinking and writing skills.

Field Work

Country: South Africa
Day: 6 - Cape Town - Wednesday, 2 April

In the morning, we will travel to the Book Lounge, a popular bookstore located in City Centre that hosts numerous literary events throughout the year. We will meet with several practicing South African poets, who will read from their work and discuss both their own poetry and South African poetry in general. In the afternoon, we will travel to the University of Cape Town where we will have lunch with some University students interested in creative writing. Then we will attend a poetry reading/workshop with renowned South African writer and poet Joan Hambridge. She will read from her poetry and discuss her sources of inspiration and the various techniques of composition. She will also conduct a brief poetry workshop. Academic Objectives:

  1. To learn about and meet practicing South African poets.
  2. To discover their sources of inspiration, methods of composition, struggles, and rewards.
  3. To gain an appreciation not only of their poetry, but also of South African poetry in general.
  4. To benefit personally from this encounter, especially through a question-and-answer session and workshop.