Poetry of the 30s
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
This course has now finished
What is the course about?
This online literature course concerns the poetry of the 1930s. “It is rare for a decade to be so self-conscious,” writes the critic Robin Skelton. The drama of the decade makes it difficult to distinguish in the mannered style of the Thirties poets earnest feeling from burlesque, but these poets had plenty to write home about: children of the First World War, shaped by the Great Depression, their political commitments were various and strongly held. Under the ambient influence above all of T.S. Eliot, most of these poets belonged to a loosely defined movement dominated instead by W.H. Auden, whose curling voice, revolutionary commitments, intricate intelligence and mastery of poetic forms made him an unavoidable object of imitation.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
The themes that tended to obsess poets writing in the Britain of the nineteen thirties were those of commun(ali)sm and war – themes that joined in the Spanish Civil War, in which many of them went to fight. The course is concerned both with those poets who went to fight – sometimes collectively called MacSpaunday: MacNeice, Spender, Day Lewis and Auden – and those of more Romantic stripes, pursuing a less strictly didactic mode of verse and often connected to the New Apocalyptics movement, such as Dylan Thomas, William Empson and Kathleen Raine. Our reading will include, but not be limited to, poems such as: William Empson, “Missing Dates” and “To an Old Lady,” Stephen Spender, “Easter Monday,” Louis MacNeice, “Sunlight on the Garden” Autumn Journal, “Snow,” W.H. Auden, “Spain” “September 1, 1939” “Lullaby,” Cecil Day Lewis, “Newsreel,” T.S. Eliot, “Ash Wednesday,” “Marina,” Kathleen Raine, Stone and Flower, Nancy Cunard, “To Eat To-Day,” Dylan Thomas, “The Force that Through the Green Fuse” “And Death Shall Have No Dominion”.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
-Students will be more conversant in the big themes and ideas used by English poets writing in the Thirties.
-Students should feel comfortable describing some of the poems of the time, and be able to distinguish and articulate different kinds of poetic composition.
-Students will have some context for the debates and situations in which the poets found themselves.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is for anyone with an interest in the subject matter, for people who have read poetry before or those who have always wanted to but not known where to start. We will read things together, crack them open and ravel them back up.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Classes will consist of a mixture of short lectures aided by Powerpoint presentations, large and small group discussions, group exercises and solitary reading and thinking prior to class which will help us in our activities.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
The tutor will provide materials.
However, it is recommended that you get: Robin Skelton’s Penguin ‘Poetry of the Thirties’
It's readily available – a wide range of sites have it for £2.30 with free postage: https://www.abebooks.co.uk/Poetry-Thirties-Penguin-Modern-Classics-Robin/30117768359/bd?cm_mmc=ggl-_-UK_Shopp_Tradestandard-_-product_id=UK9780141184579USED-_-keyword=&gclid=Cj0KCQiAsqOMBhDFARIsAFBTN3c7Y4HijKuc2qS41ysnNWQ4yq3t8Z2VEl2RdMVBLL2sOK212gl9knEaAitREALw_wcB.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Look for other poetry courses at www.citylit.ac.uk/courses under History, Culture & Writing/Literature/Fiction.