ENGLISH 685:002 / SUSAN TICHY / FALL 2005
WEEK 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE
WEEK 2: BRITISH SOLDIER POETS & THE DEFINITION OF A GENRE
WEEK 1: SEPT 1: INTRODUCTION to THE COURSE Week 2
Please read Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory before the semester begins. This study of English Great War poetry (and poets' memoirs) is a touchstone for every discussion of the subject published since. Its fundamental thesis, that war experience sets war writing apart from other literature, is shared by most critics and cultural historians. It is fair to say that the brilliance of Fussell's book can obscure the possibility of there being another position. As you will see, Simon Featherstone does take another position, one that is not antithetical to Fussell but establishes a somewhat larger definition of "war poetry" in British (and, by extension, American) culture. This course will follow Featherstone in that regard; nevertheless, Fussell's treatment of subjects such as war and pastoral, war and the erotic, strategies for expressing the inexpressible, and the mutual, multiple influences of experience on literature and literature on experience, make his work indispensable. You will also notice that of Fussell's central poets -- Sigfried Sassoon, Edmund Blunden, and Wilfred Owen -- Featherstone includes only Owen, choosing instead to feature Ivor Gurney, Isaac Rosenberg, and the modernist David Jones. How fortunate for us, as we are thus provided with sympathetic and intelligent introductions to all six poets.
The Great War and Modern Memory (Oxford University Press, 1975) is widely & cheaply available. I did not order it at the bookstore. If pressed for time, concentrate on Chapters I, II, IV, V, & VII.
Some Useful Linkshttp://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/
Modern American Poetry: An Online Journal and Multimedia Companion to Anthology of Modern American Poetry (Oxford UP, 2000). Edited by Cary Nelson. This site has background information, photos, and other materials related to poems and poets included in Nelson's anthology, including discussions of some of the poems we'll read. See particularly the material for e.e. cummings, Randall Jarrell, H.D., Denise Levertov, Robert Bly, and Yusef Komunyakaa. Through pages devoted to these poets you will find background articles on the wars.
Here's a W.W.I chronology
Each time a new book enters our reading, be sure to read the Introduction or other prefatory material, whether or not I specifically mention it. Also be alert to contextual or biographical end notes. The Featherstone book, by the way, is a textbook and reads like one; so though I've asked you to whip through a lot of pages by next week, they should go rather quickly. Next week's reading will be mostly poems.
READINGFeatherstone: Introduction; Part I: Chapters 1, 2, & 4; in Chapter 5, read from top of page 72 (first half of that chapter is optional). Though the focus is intensely and specifically English, this commentary introduces basic issues of the genre, or genres, of war poetry in the 20th century. Read the poems he references. The last part of Chapter 2 focuses on David Jones, whom we won't discuss until we move on to Modernism.
Featherstone: Part III: Bertrand Russell from 'Principles of Social Reconstruction', Edgell Rickwold from 'Poetry and Two Wars'
Here is the poem by Richard Lovelace (1618-1658) that crops up in every discussion of soldier poets, women, honor, recruitment, and even WWII V-letters:
TO LUCASTA, GOING TO THE WARS
Tell me not, sweet, I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind,
To war and arms I fly.
True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe on the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.
Yet this inconstancy is such
As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee, dear, so much
Loved I not honor more.