It took British Poetry a long time to assimilate European modernism. This course takes the 'low, dishonest' 1930s as a starting point in exploring British poetry's international allegiances, first embracing European movements such as Surrealism and Expressionism, replaced in the 1950s by the more unassuming and insular style of poetry exemplified by The Movement; but in the 1960s, under US influence, modernism resurged into what became known as the 'British Poetry Revival'. From this point there was a clear split between styles of poetry: the conflict over the control of the Poetry Society became know as the 'Poetry Wars'. Increasingly from the 1970s, it seemed that different schools of poetry hardly talked to each other.
This course will look closely at the culture and context of poetry production, the material objects of poetry (books, magazines, manifestoes), and the occasional tensions between poetry factions; and it will then survey the increasingly divided terrain of British poetry, and how negotiable this situation is. Although individual poets are important, this course will be also about historic and political contexts, stylistic continuities, influences (both national and international), and disjunctions. In each week, the first hour will give contexts in the form of lectures, while the second hour will be occupied with detailed analyses and close readings of individual poems and texts, with the opportunity for students to give presentations on poems or poets from this period.