Provocations and Invitations - EN872

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 4)
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7 30 (15) DR B Hickman







This module introduces the challenges and pleasures of postmodern poetry and poetics. We will consider a range of poetic texts, and essays on poetry, that between them raise profound questions of nation, agency, language, politics and gender in the post-war period. Starting with Charles Olson's ground-breaking inquiries into 'open field poetics’, we will investigate a range of American and British poets for whom the poem has been a way of generating new modes of thought and life. In particular we will explore the ways in which poetry of the period enables us to think through the implications of globalisation. We will consider how poetry can escape the constraints of place, and how it can imagine new forms of collective identity.
Among the poets we will consider are: Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Frank O’Hara, Denise Riley, Lyn Hejinian, J. H. Prynne, and Tony Lopez. The work of these writers will be read alongside contemporary philosophy and political theory, and will be considered in relation to other art forms, especially painting. Students on the module will benefit from the activities of the Centre for Modern Poetry, including regular readings, research seminars and the reading groups.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 280
Total Study Hours: 300


Spring term in 2019/20

Method of assessment

Assignment (5,000 words) – 100%

Indicative reading

Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually

Any edition of the following:
M. Nourbese Philips — ZONG!
Verity Spott — Gideon
Lyn Hejinian – My Life
Juliana Spahr — That Winter the Wolf Came

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a wide-ranging knowledge of contemporary Anglophone poetry from several aesthetic and national contexts.

2. Demonstrate an advanced ability to relate the literary works from this period to wider political, cultural, historical and philosophical questions.

3. Demonstrate a sophisticated range of analytic skills, including close textual analysis.

4. Connect the material to contemporary debates around gender, class and race.

5. Show an advanced understanding of what's at stake in questions of aesthetic form.

6. Utilize sophisticated close reading skills to a range of literary texts and to develop erudite and complex comparisons between them.

7. Demonstrate an advanced set of presentation skills, as well as an ability to participate actively and constructively within group discussions.

8. Display an advanced ability to conduct individual research, including the ability to analyse, discuss and deploy secondary texts (both critical and theoretical) from appropriate scholarly resources.

9. Identify and evaluate advanced research questions and an ability to develop clear, reasoned and original arguments.

10. Demonstrate an ability to relate literature to the development and practices of other art forms

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