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BTAN 24200

Spring semester, 2009

Course syllabus

Title: Voices in Post-1945 British Poetry

Format: seminars
Status: required-optional
Teacher: István Rácz

Time: Wed 14.00—15.50, room: Main Building, Room 121.

Office hours: Tue 11.00—12.00, Thu 13.00—14.00 (Room 114./2.)

Note: Students are required to read the assigned texts (poetry and criticism) in advance. After
most of the assignments you will find questions. You are required to write a one-paragraph
answer to these questions before the class. Apart from these, you are not required to keep a
reader's journal, but preparing with questions and comments will be appreciated and improve
your chances to get a high grade.

Texts: course packets distributed in week 1

Douglas Dunn. Elegies (available from the library)
handouts distributed previously

Further recommended reading:

Friedrich-Molnár-D.Rácz. English, Irish, American and Canadian Poetry

in English after 1945 (especially for further poems by Betjeman, Gunn
and Porter)
Sean O'Brien. The Deregulated Muse (available from the library)
Neil Corcoran. English Poetry since 1940 (available from the library)
Gary Day and Brian Docherty. British Poetry from the 1950s to the 1990s
(available from the library)
Hans-Werner Ludwig and Lothar Fietz, ed. Poetry in the British Isles
(available from the library)
Nagyvilág 1999/9-10 and 2002/5-6 (especially the interviews with
Douglas Dunn)
D. Rácz István. A másik ország. Az angol költészet 1945 után

Take-home essay: Students will be required to write a take-home essay of 7-8 typewritten pages
(double-spaced). It must follow the MLA format. No plagiarizing is allowed. The topic should be
two or three freely chosen poems by any of the poets discussed during the course. You must use
at least two printed (non-internet) sources to support your arguments. The deadline is 29
April. Note: In case you submit your essay later but still before 13 May, your grade will be
reduced. You cannot get any grade or credit for this course if you miss this second deadline.

Grading will be based on the take-home essay (35%), on the mid-term test (35%) and
performance in class (30%).

1. 11/2 No teaching. Students are required to collect a copy of the
course packet and do the reading for next week.

2. 18/2 Generations and Voices in Post-1945 British Poetry

W.H. Auden. "Gare du Midi", "Stop all the clocks..." (for pre-
1945 poetry)
Elizabeth Jennings. "Delay" (for Movement poetry)
Craig Raine. "A Martian Sends a Postcard Home" (for Martian
Roger McGough. "Ex Patria" (for the Liverpool poets)
Simon Armitage. "To Poverty" (for New Generation poetry)

"Ian Hamilton interviewed by Gregory LeStage" (In: New Writing

7, ed. Carmen Callil and Craig Raine. London: Vintage,
Anthony Thwaite: "The Poetry Business" (In: Poetry Today.
London: Longman, 1996)

Questions: What do you think the role of poetry should be in a

society? Should it be independent from social questions?
(Please consider your answer in the context of the poems
and the prose pieces assigned for this class.)

3. 25/2 John Betjeman

"Death in Leamington", "The Arrest of Oscar Wilde", "In
Westminster Abbey", "Death of King George V", "Pot Pourri
from a Surrey Garden", "Before the Anaesthetic...", "Middlesex",
"The Olympic Girl", "Good-bye", "Five o'Clock Shadow",
"Monody...", "Winthrop Mackworth Redivivus", "Old Friends"

John Press. "The Shorter Poems" (In: John Betjeman. Harlow:

Longman, 1974)

Question: Some readers say that Betjeman is one of the finest

poets in post-1945 British literature, whereas others think that his
poetry measures up only to the standards of village newspapers.
What do you think on the basis of these poems?

4. 4/3 The mask of age: W.B. Yeats, Philip Larkin, and Roy Fuller

Yeats. "Sailing to Byzantium", "The Wild Old Wicked Man"

Larkin. "High Windows", "Annus Mirabilis"
Fuller. "Quatrains of an Elderly Man"

Question: What differences can you notice between the attitudes

of the speakers?

5. 11/3 Peter Porter

"John Marston Advises Anger", "The Historians Call Up Pain",
"Annotations of Auschwitz", "Your Attention Please", "Soliloquy
at Potsdam", "Septimus Severus at the Vienna Gate", "Steps on
the Way", "Short Story", "A Consumer's Report", "Applause for
Death", "The Old Enemy", "Mort aux chats", "An Exequy"

Anthony Thwaite. "The 'Group' and after" (In: Poetry Today)

Sean O'Brien. "Peter Porter: A Planet in the Mind" (In: The
Deregulated Muse. Newcastle: Bloodaxe Books, 1998)

Question: Which of the poems do you like the best? Give


6. 18/3 Women in poetry: Fleur Adcock, Carol Rumens, and Helen


Adcock. “Witnesses”, “For Heidi with Blue Hair”, “Halfway

Street, Sidcup”, “My Father”
Rumens. “Outside Oswiecim”, “The Hebrew Class”, “A
New Song”
Dunmore. “Poem on the Obliteration of 100,000 Iraqi

Questions: Is there a specific female voice in poetry? Should we

speak about women’s poetry at all, or just poetry?

7. 25/3 Edwin Morgan

"London", "Chinese Cat", Siesta of a Hungarian Snake",
"Hortobágy", "Elegy", Summer Haiku", "Spacepoem 1",
"Spacepoem 3", The Computer's First Birthday Card", "Visual
Weöres Sándor. "Téma és variációk"

Robin Fulton. "Edwin Morgan" (In: Contemporary Scottish

Poetry. Loanhead: Macdonald Publishers, 1974)

Question: Do you think this kind of concrete poetry is just a hoax

or is it real poetry?

8. 1/4 Peter Reading

"Raspberrying", "Mnemonic", "Thanksgiving", "Duologues",
"Ballad", "Parallel Texts", "Ex Lab", "10x10x10", "Otto Van
Bumph", "Sonnet", "Post-dated"

Dennis O'Driscoll. "'No-God and Species Decline Stuff': The

Poetry of Peter Reading" (In: In Black and Gold, ed. C.C.
Barfoot. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1994)
Sean O'Brien. "Peter Reading: The Poet as Thatcherite?" (In: The
Deregulated Muse)
9. 8/4 Thom Gunn
"On the Move", "Old Meg", "In Time of Plague", "The
Reassurance", "Courtesies of the Interregnum", "Lament", "The
Man with Night Sweats", "The Missing", "A Blank"

John Keats. "Meg Merrilies"

Bruce Woodcock. "'But oh not loose': form and sexuality in Thom

Gunn's poetry" (Critical Quarterly 35, 1993)

Question: How does Gunn rewrite Keats's poem

in his "Old Meg"?

10. 15/4 consultation week, no teaching

11. 22/4 MID-TERM TEST (consisting of a short quiz and the detailed
discussion of a poem)

12. 29/4 Douglas Dunn


Sean O'Brien. "Douglas Dunn: Ideology and Pastoral" (In: The

Deregulated Muse)

Question: This is a full volume of poetry. What makes it a

cohesive whole?
Take-home essay due!

13. 6/5 Wendy Cope

Philip Larkin. "Mr Bleaney"
Wendy Cope. Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, sequence II (the
"Strugnell" poems)

Question: Who is Mr Strugnell? Is he a parody of Philip Larkin? A

satire of middle-class Englishness? Something else?

14. 13/5 James Fenton

“A German Requiem”, “Jerusalem”

Question: Who is the speaker (or who are the speakers) of