ENGL E-182H Poetry in America: Whitman and Dickinson
This course focuses on the poetry of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, two influential and iconic American poets of the nineteenth century. First, we encounter Walt Whitman, a quintessentially American writer whose work continues to bear heavily upon the American poetic tradition. We explore Whitman's relationship to the city, the self, and the body through his life and poetry. Then, we turn to Emily Dickinson, one of America's most distinctive and prolific poets. While Dickinson wrote nearly 2,000 poems during her lifetime, she chose never to publish, opting instead to revisit and revise her works throughout her lifetime. Keeping this dynamic of self-revision in mind, we consider a number of Dickinson's poems concerned with nature, art, the self, and darkness. We travel to the Dickinson Collection at Harvard's Houghton Library, and to Amherst, Massachusetts, paying a visit to the house in which the poet lived and wrote until her death in 1886.