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Poetry has always been about extreme experiences, above all in the realms of love and death. But poetry is not only about extremity; it is itself an extreme experience, not least of language. This subject focuses on great poetry about love and death, their continuities and mutations over time and place. Gay, straight, celebratory, condemnatory, strange, terrifying, obscene, beautiful, ambivalent: this subject will run the gamut of the poetry of love and death, introducing students to a wide range of poets from the classics to the present, and examining their accounts of love, death, being and affect through a variety of forms and techniques. Beginning with the great lyric poems of Sappho, the subject moves from ancient Greece and Rome to medieval and early modern Europe through to the present day. Each week will introduce new poets, new modes and new situations that bear upon the central theme; each week will be accompanied by secondary readings that provide salient formal, contextual and theoretical information about the poems.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of representative examples of poems and poetic forms;
- articulate the relationship between exemplary poems and the social, historical and cultural contexts that produced them;
- apply high-level analysis, conceptual sophistication and critical thinking to the study of poetic texts and their uses;
- contribute to the understanding of poetic texts in ways that engage the interests of the discipline of literary studies;
- effectively communicate an understanding of poetic texts and their contexts in both written and oral formats; and
- have gained an understanding of how to act as critically informed participants within a community of literature scholars, as citizens and in the work force at large.
At the completion of this subject, students should gain the following generic skills:
- acquired a transportable set of interpretative skills;
- developed their capacity for independent research;
- developed their capacity for critical thinking and analysis; and
- developed their ability to communicate in writing.
Last updated: 9 September 2021