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Unit information: Poetry of the 1960s in 2014/15

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Unit name Poetry of the 1960s
Unit code ENGL20032
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Wootten
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

On this unit, we shall examine English and American poetry of the 1960s, concentrating upon the major volumes of that decade. Each week we shall examine a different book of poetry. These will be drawn from across the range of different poetries that defined the poetry of the 1960s and which have continued to influence poetry written in the years since. Along with the opportunity to pay close attention to the works themselves, there will be the chance to read the poetry in the light of a variety of illuminating contexts, be they social, political, philosophical or biographical. We shall also look at the poetry of the sixties more widely, at poetic movements such as confessionalism, beat poetry, projective verse and The Movement, and at influential critical voices and anthologies.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will have: (1) developed a detailed understanding of some of the most important volumes of English and American poetry of the 1960s; (2) developed an ability to situate poetry within a range of relevant historical and intellectual contexts; (3) demonstrated the ability to understand and evaluate a range of different poetics and critical positions; (4) strengthened their skills in argumentation and academic writing.

Teaching Information

1 x 2-hour seminar per week.

Assessment Information

One short essay of 2000 words (33.3%) and one long essay of 4000 words (66.7%). Both summative elements will assess: (1) knowledge and understanding of major poetry volumes of the 1960s; (2) students’ understanding of the historical and intellectual context of the poetry under discussion and of critical approaches to it. In addition the essays will test (4 and 5) students’ ability to analyse and assess competing accounts of the primary texts; their ability to adduce pertinent textual material in support of their argument and their ability to present that argument lucidly and in accordance with academic conventions.

Reading and References

Sylvia Plath, Ariel (London: Faber & Faber, 1968). Frank O’Hara, Lunch Poems (San Francisco: City Lights, 1986). Basil Bunting, Briggflatts (Newcastle: Bloodaxe, 2009). Philip Larkin, The Whitsun Weddings (London: Faber and Faber, 2001). John Berryman, 77 Dream Songs (London: Faber and Faber, 2001). Ted Hughes, Lupercal (London: Faber and Faber, 1985).