The Urban Poem: Landscapes of Horror and Grace
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Undergraduate Studies
Course Number: NLIT 3585
Course Format: Lecture
Permission Required: No
The city offers a rich intersection of dream, despair, horror, grace and continuous revelation, and the poetry that has been written about cities reflects and manifests that revelation. How have poets responded to the simultaneity of dream and despair? Of horror and grace? As citizens of an urbanized world, we already have a vocabulary for negotiating our own personal quotidian. Here we will look beyond surface descriptions to see how imagination and intimate knowledge of a place, encoded in the vocabulary of poetry, can reveal unexpected and revelatory information. We will focus our analyses on the cultural "moment" of each writer, what those concepts reveal about history and culture over time, and ultimately what using our own imaginations can teach us about re-negotiating the contemporary quotidian and our place in it. Europeans include Blake, Nerval, Baudelaire, Nerval, Akhmatova and Tsvetaeva. American voices include Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, Frank O'Hara and Chicagoans Gwendolyn Brooks and Nelson Algren. The poets of the slam and spoken word movements speak to our contemporary situation, and Federico Garcia Lorca’s “Poet in New York” gives us an outsider’s perspective. We will also view and discuss “Wings of Desire,” Wim Wenders’ 1987 film about modern, post-war Berlin, "West" Germany.
Course Open to: Majors Only