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ENGL408: Modern Poetry and Poetics

Unit 6: High Modernism   The literary aesthetic of High Modernism, which represented the ways modernity was transforming culture by experimenting with, adapting, and altering more traditional literary styles and forms, is best understood as a profound ambivalence about both the present and the past.
 
Modernist poets tended toward fragmented and disjointed perspectives rather than cohesive or coherent patterns in order to question rather than explain and to reject the illusive order of literary artifice in a world of relative truth rather than objective truth. Their poetic expressions at times appear to be the free associations. A work like Eliot’s Waste Land includes overarching patterns and echoing classical or mythic narratives, but the allusions are foregrounded by very personal and opaque commentary or by snapshots of interruptive images as if a bomb had exploded a church’s stained glass window onto a city’s dump-site.
 
The high modernist emphasis on individual experience over objective truth ironically also meant incorporating elements of popular culture, which had not been thought literary enough for high art until then, mixing in colloquialisms and dialects without the aid of an interpretive narrator. Pub diction and Dante Italian and Sanskrit swirl in word searches for the holy grail of meaning in desiccated land and cityscapes. The demands of high modernist style tapping into precious and arcane cultural allusion without context or even perceived intention guaranteed a small, very educated elite readership and fed an army of academic explicators. Then again, less obtuse and far more commercially successful poets like Frost and Sandburg were viewed as sell-outs to bourgeois culture.
 
Probably the greatest irony of the high modernist poets was that the more that they protested how new they were their use of highly traditional, even ancient, poetic forms grew. Ezra Pound’s later work providing the most obvious exemplars. This ambivalence may be best encapsulated by the title of T. S. Eliot’s influential essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent” and such mind-twisting statements as "No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to dead poets and artists.” How that jives with Pound’s modernist mantra, “Make it new,” is the conundrum of these poets and their critics. Hart Crane’s “The Bridge” is probably the best example of this high modernist merging of a deep, almost impenetrable, subjectivity with the traditional epic form.

Unit 6 Time Advisory
This unit will take you approximately 25.25 hours. 

☐   Subunit 6.1: 1.5 hours

☐   Subunit 6.2: 2 hours

☐   Subunit 6.3: 1 hour

☐   Subunit 6.4: 1.5 hours

☐   Subunit 6.5: 2.25 hours

☐   Subunit 6.6: 2.5 hours

☐   Subunit 6.7: 9 hours

☐   Lecture: 4 hours

☐   Reading: 5 hours

☐   Subunit 6.8:5.5 hours

☐   Lecture: 2.5 hours

☐   Reading: 3 hours

Unit6 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you should be able to:
- identify the most important representatives of English and American High Modernism, analyze their poems, and understand the poems’ historical context; - analyze the different stages, styles, and rhetorical aims of Ezra Pound’s poetry; - analyze the poems and theoretical writings of T.S. Eliot; - characterize how the concept of the waste land functioned within high modernist poetry; and - contrast William Butler Yeats’ mature poetry against Pound and Eliot.

6.1 Make It New: The Complicated Relationship between High Modernism and Earlier Texts   - Lecture: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 9: Ezra Pound” Link: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 9: Ezra Pound” (Adobe Flash, QuickTime, HTML, Mp3)

 Instructions: Watch this lecture on Ezra Pound, focusing on
Professor Hammer’s analysis of Pound’s “Canto I.”  
    
 Write a paragraph in which you explain how High Modernism was
different from earlier forms of literary modernism. Consider posting
your paragraph to the [ENGL408 Course Discussion
Board](http://forums.saylor.org/forum/english/ENGL408/), and respond
to other students’ posts.  

 Watching this lecture, pausing to take notes, and completing the
writing activity described above should take approximately 1 hour
and 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

6.2 Pound’s Return of the Epic Form in Modern Poetry   - Reading: Poets.org: Ezra Pound’s The Cantos: “Canto XIV” Link: Poets.org: Ezra Pound’s The Cantos: “Canto XIV” (HTML)

 Instructions: Before doing the readings for this subunit, please
review your notes on Professor Langdon Hammer’s lecture on Ezra
Pound, which you listened to in subunit 6.1. Then, read “Canto XIV”
in its entirety.  
    
 Write a brief analysis of the rhetorical goals of this poem, as
well as its imagery, form, and tone. Consider posting your paragraph
to the [ENGL408 Course Discussion
Board](http://forums.saylor.org/forum/english/ENGL408/), and respond
to other students’ posts.  

 Reviewing your notes, reading the text, and completing the writing
activity should take 2 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

6.3 Eliot’s Tradition and the Individual Talent   - Reading: Poetry Foundation: T.S. Eliot’s “Tradition and Individual Talent” Link: Poetry Foundation: T.S. Eliot’s “Tradition and Individual Talent” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read “Tradition and Individual Talent.” As you read,
consider the following study questions and writing prompt: What
concept of individuality emerges from this essay? What does this say
and imply about the place of emotions in modern poetry? Write a
brief paragraph to summarize your thoughts. Consider posting your
paragraph to the [ENGL408 Course Discussion
Board](http://forums.saylor.org/forum/english/ENGL408/), and respond
to other students’ posts.  

 Reading this essay, answering the questions above, and completing
the writing activity should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copy right and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

6.4 The Artist in Exile: Ezra Pound’s *Hugh Selwyn Mauberley*   - Reading: Modern American Poetry: Excerpts from Pound’s *Hugh Selwyn Mauberley* Link: Modern American Poetry: Excerpts from Pound’s Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (HTML)

 Instructions: Scroll down the webpage to find selections from
Pound’s *Hugh Selwyn Mauberley.*  
    
 As you read, compare this poem to other poems by Pound that you
read in earlier subunits. Consider the following study questions and
writing prompt: What is unique about Pound’s diction? What is the
effect of the various phrases borrowed from other languages? Can one
say that this poem has formal or thematic unity? Why, or why not?
Write a brief paragraph to summarize your thoughts. Consider posting
your paragraph to the [ENGL408 Course Discussion
Board](http://forums.saylor.org/forum/english/ENGL408/), and respond
to other students’ posts.  
    
 Reading this text, answering the questions above, and completing
the writing activity should take approximately 1 hour and 30
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

6.5 The American Expatriates in Europe   - Reading: The Poetry Foundation: “Biography of Gertrude Stein” and “Biography of H.D.” Link: The Poetry Foundation: “Biography of Gertrude Stein” (HTML) and “Biography of H.D.” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read the biographies of Gertrude Stein and H.D. to
better understand the experiences of expatriate women poets.  

 Reading these articles should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Reading: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library: “Literary Expatriates in Paris” Link: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library: “Literary Expatriates in Paris”(HTML)

    Instructions: Read this article on literary expatriates in Paris. As you read, consider the following study question: Why, do you think, Americans would look to leave their country during this era?

    Reading this article and answering the question above should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Poetry Foundation: Gertrude Stein’s “A Carafe, That Is a Blind Glass,” “A Little Called Pauline,” and “New” Link: The Poetry Foundation: Gertrude Stein’s “A Carafe, That Is a Blind Glass” (HTML), “A Little Called Pauline” (HTML), and “New” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read Stein’s three poems: “A Carafe, That Is a Blind Glass,” “A Little Called Pauline,” and “New.”
     
    As you read these poems, consider the following study questions: How do these poems differ from Imagist and other early modernist poems you studied previously in this course? What characteristics of high modernism do you find in these poems? Write a paragraph to summarize your thoughts. Consider posting your paragraph to the ENGL408 Course Discussion Board, and respond to other students’ posts.

    Studying these poems, answering the question above, and completing the writing activity should take approximately 45 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

6.6 William Butler Yeats: The Mature Years   - Reading: The Literature Network: William Butler Yeats’ “Easter, 1916” and “The Second Coming” Link: The Literature Network: William Butler Yeats’ “Easter, 1916” (HTML) and “The Second Coming” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read Yeats’ poems: “Easter, 1916” and “The Second
Coming.”  
    
 As you study these poems, consider the following study questions
and writing prompt: How would you relate “The Second Coming” to the
events and aftermath of World War I? How does Yeats use biblical
imagery in this poem? How does the poem’s form work to support or
subvert its message? What characteristics of high modernism do you
find in these poems? Write a paragraph or two to summarize your
ideas. Consider posting your paragraph to the [ENGL408 Course
Discussion Board](http://forums.saylor.org/forum/english/ENGL408/),
and respond to other students’ posts.  

 Studying these poems, answering the questions above, and completing
the writing activity should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Lecture: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 5: William Butler Yeats (cont.)” Link: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 5: William Butler Yeats (cont.)” (Adobe Flash, QuickTime, HTML, Mp3)

    Instructions: Watch this lecture on William Butler Yeats. Note how Dr. Hammer interprets Yeats’ poetry during World War I and in its aftermath as well as how he relates the poems to their historical context.

    Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.7 A Heap of Broken Images: The Modern World as Waste Land   - Lecture: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 10: T.S. Eliot,” “Lecture 11: T.S. Eliot (cont.),” and “Lecture 12: T.S. Eliot (cont.)” Link: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 10: T.S. Eliot” (Adobe Flash, QuickTime, HTML, Mp3), “Lecture 11: T.S. Eliot (cont.)” (Adobe Flash, QuickTime, HTML, Mp3), and “Lecture 12: T.S. Eliot (cont.)” (Adobe Flash, QuickTime, HTML, Mp3)

 Instructions: View Professor Hammer’s three lectures on T.S. Eliot.
Take careful notes on the evolution of Eliot’s literary techniques
and understanding of modernist poetry.  

 Watching these lectures and pausing to take notes should take
approximately 4 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Project Gutenberg: T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land Link: Project Gutenberg: T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (HTML)

    Instructions: Read Eliot’s 434-line poem, The Waste Land. As you read this poem, consider the ways in which it is an emblem of the post-WWI sensibility. What features of the poem contribute to that sensibility?

    Reading this poem and answering the question above should take approximately 5 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.8 Hart Crane   - Reading: The Poetry Foundation: “Biography of Hart Crane,” Hart Crane’s “Legend,” and Selections from Hart Crane’s “The Bridge” Link: The Poetry Foundation: “Biography of Hart Crane” (HTML), Hart Crane’s “Legend” (HTML), and Selections from Hart Crane’s “The Bridge” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read the biography of Hart Crane. Then, read the poem
“Legend” and selections from “The Bridge.” Note the form and style
of the poems, and summarize their content in your own words.    

 Reading the biography, studying the poems, and summarizing the form
and style of the poems should take approximately 2 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Reading: The Poetry Foundation: Brian Reed’s “Hart Crane: Voyages” Link: The Poetry Foundation: Brian Reed’s “Hart Crane: Voyages” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read Reed’s explication of Hart Crane’s “Voyages.”
     
    Reading this text should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 13: Hart Crane” and “Lecture 14: Hart Crane, (cont.)” Link: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lectures 13: Hart Crane” (Adobe Flash, QuickTime, HTML, Mp3) and “Lecture 14: Hart Crane, (cont.)” (Adobe Flash, QuickTime, HTML, Mp3)
     
    Instructions: As you watch these lectures on Hart Crane, take careful notes on Professor Hammer’s analysis of Crane’s poems, paying particular attention to the arguments proposed in the two lectures. You may also download the transcript by clicking on the link to the transcript on the webpage.

    Watching these lectures and pausing to take notes should take approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

Unit 6 Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 6 Assessment” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 6 Assessment” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Consider the essay prompts for this assessment, and craft an essay founded on your readings from this unit. After writing your essay, use the “Rubric for Effectively Written College-Level Essays” (PDF) to self-evaluate your writing.
 
Tips and Suggestions: If you have an ePortfolio account, then it may be beneficial to upload or link to your essay from the Work Samples section of your profile. In combination with the Study Groups function or the ENGL408 Discussion Forum, using your ePortfolio profile may be a good way to receive peer feedback on your written work. If you do not yet have an ePortfolio account, you can create one here, free of charge.
 
Completing this assessment should take approximately 3 hours.