Topics in Literature : The Lyric Voice

Course Number: ENGL 165LV
Prerequisites: Check on GOLD
Advisory Enrollment Information: May be repeated for credit providing letter designations are different.
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 165AA-ZZ
Quarter: Spring 2013
Day(s): TR
Time: 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Location: GIRV 2127
May be repeated for credit to a maximum of 28 units provided letter designations are different.
In The Birth of Tragedy (1872), Friedrich Nietzsche traced the birth of ‘the lyric voice’ to the tragedies of Euripedes. As the Greek chorus formed a communal presence on stage, traditional from the great choric odes of Sophocles, a new phenomenon broke forth: a single speaker, a single voice rose up. For Nietzsche, this “I,” speaking at once deeply alone and for the subjective experience of all mankind, was the same resounding “I” that grew in volume and variety through all the following centuries. In the sound of one voice that gave voice to the deepest, most persistent experiences of all, the lyric voice – of Shakespeare and Donne, Keats and Holderlin, Valery and Whitman, Bishop and Bogan, Wagner, Beethoven, Dylan, and Cash – was born. The purpose of this course is three-fold. In the first instance, we will be charting the development of the lyric through the works of some of the greatest poets of Western literature, from the classical era through the 21st century. How are the characteristics of the lyric mode revealed in these works – in their formal innovations and in your affective experience of them as readers? Despite differences in culture, era and argument, what qualities of voice unite these works as ‘lyrical’? Our next turn will be to consider the definition of the lyric from a philosophical and theoretical angle. How do accounts of the lyric, from the discourses of Nietzsche and T.S. Eliot to those of current critics assign differing values to this poetic phenomenon? Why, in particular, are we experiencing a resurgence of interest and urgency in re-defining the lyric? Finally, we will, individually, be engaging in a serious and on-going creative encounter with the lyric voice. Whether in poetic or musical form, we will produce, revise, critically consider, and perform our own lyrics: experiencing personally the creative challenges and critical stakes of participating in lyric tradition.

Course requirements include 2 formal papers (one close-reading, one argumentative essay); active participation in class discussion; 1 recitation; 1 final project, either creative or critical; final exam. The poems and essays for this course will be collected in a reader.