Bodies Electric: Avant-Garde Poetics

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Lorca ▼ Spicer ▼ Stein ▼ Vallejo

Our Course

This course on images of the body and body parts in Modernist and avant-garde poetry from major Spanish and English speaking traditions will focus on poetry as physical experience and on the poem as body. While in earlier modern poets like Whitman, Yeats, and Darío sensorial experience often meant wholeness, high modernist and avant-garde poetry fragments the body and represents it as a set of often disjointed parts. We will use this focus as a starting point for a broader discussion of the lived experience of modernization and modernity, and of poetry itself as bodily experience and not disembodied text.

Major readings will be from Gertrude Stein (USA/France), Federico García Lorca (Spain), Jack Spicer (USA), and César Vallejo (Peru/France), but graduate students will also present work on a writer of their choice. Secondary and theoretical readings will include work on the plastic arts of the period, on poetry as it relates to music and dance, Marshall Berman’s classic discussion of modernity All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, Paul Julian Smith’s study The Body Hispanic, and a number of short films from the avant-garde period.

Lecture and discussion in English. Reading and writing in Spanish for students enrolled in the course as Spanish 492G. Workload includes active participation in class discussion, four short papers, and a final project. For undergraduates this project will take the form of a take-home final examination. Graduate students will give a formal oral presentation based on individual research. They will develop this presentation into a 12 page final paper accompanied by an annotated bibliography and an abstract.

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