Poetry and Faith

This course is designed to look at issues of faith through the lens of poetry.  With some notable exceptions, we will concentrate on modern poetry—that is, poetry written between 1850 and 2017.  Inevitably we will also look at poetry through the lens of faith, but a working assumption of the course is that a poem is, for a reader (it’s more complicated for a writer), art first and faith second.  You may want to challenge this assumption.  The entire course may end up being a challenge to this assumption.

“Faith” in this course does not necessarily mean Christianity, though that will inevitably be the context for reading many of the poems, given that Christianity is so important to the history of poetry in English.  But we will also engage with poems from other faith traditions, as well as with poems that are wholly secular and even adamantly anti-religious.

The reading in this course is intensive rather than extensive.  You will need to read every poem many times.  You will need to memorize at least one of them and parts of others.  We will read a wide variety of poets but usually only 1-3 poems from each of them.

You will also be expected to read select critical pieces, all by poets.  These are primarily to serve as examples of some of the ways that recent poets have thought about their art in relation to faith and culture, but they are also intended to give you some models for your final paper.  I will explain this carefully in class.

Also RLST 233/HUMS 253

Undergraduate Course #: 
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm