The Red Right Hand

This course will survey modernist and contemporary poetry inEnglish, from 1900 to the present, with an emphasis on the way poetry has responded to the continual specter of violence in our time. In addition to our focus on poetry, we will also be reading, in serial fashion, a chapter a week, from the mysterious noir novel of 1945 The Red Right Hand, by Joel Townsley Rogers, the key text of the haunted twentieth century. We will be reading and writing from a variety of perspectives on violence and its consequences, and it is not for everyone - not for the easily upset, for example - though it is designed for students from every department and like an old Alice Cooper show, everyone is welcome to the nightmare. This class will read essays from a variety of spaces and cultures; in addition, we will be writing many small papers of our own, testing the waters somewhere between argument and coercion. We will critique that work in class. We will look at slash and burn tactics in thework of Eliot, Lawrence, H.D., Yeats, Pound, Loy, Williams, Muriel Rukeyser, Langston Hughes, Samuel Beckett, Sylvia Plath, Jack Spicer, Michael McClure, Allen Ginsberg, Diane di Prima, Robert Creeley, Anne Sexton, Amiri Baraka, Kathy Acker, "Araki Yasusada," Leslie Scalapino. We will be looking at the traces of violence in Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, Jackson Mac Low, Barbara Guest, John Cage, just the ones you thought were above it all.