This course aims to demystify the Bard by discerning elements of his craft, introducing students to contemporary poets inspired by Shakespeare, and teaching students how to employ aspects of Shakespeare’s craft in their own poems—without sounding Elizabethan. With the belief that Shakespeare’s poetry is still utterly alive, and that many of the best contemporary poems finds their origin in his protean touch. Weekly reading alternates between one of the plays and one book of contemporary poetry, while weekly assignments alternate between critical response papers and creative assignments, focusing on specific craft elements, such as “The Outlandish List: How to Make Anaphora Exciting,” “Verbs: How to Hurtle a Poem Forward,” “Concrete Nouns as the Key to Clear Narrative,” “The Poet as Culture Vulture: How to Collect and Command Contemporary Details,” “Wilding: How to Loot and Weirden the Natural World,” “Layers of the Word: Wit and Double Meanings,” “Exciting Enjambments: How to Keep Iambic Pentameter From Being Boring,” “Finis: How to Make a Poem End.” Students decide before midterm whether they want to take the course as a Renaissance Literature or Creative Writing credit, and this determines whether their final will be a creative portfolio or a critical essay; their midterm assignment will be the opposite of their final assignment, so a student taking the class as a Literature credit (and writing a critical essay for their final) will do the creative writing option at midterm.
Senior Seminar or Creative Writing Workshop. No advance application required.