Poetry and Poetics


The Program in Poetry and Poetics brings together a diverse community of literary scholars, poets, and translators working on poetry and poetics across a spectrum of regions, historical periods, and theoretical approaches at the University of Chicago. The faculty includes experts on classical Chinese poetry, the French avant-garde, the modern reception of archaic Greek poetry, and contemporary British and American writing. The program seeks to expand the critical understanding of poetics as a field that encompasses not only the study of poetry, but various aspects of literary theory, media studies, and historicist models of inquiry as well. Because many of the faculty members and graduate students presently engaged in the study of poetry and poetics at the university are publishing poets, the program also fosters work that crosses the border between critical thought and creative practice.

Selected Faculty

Sample Courses

ENGL 30250 - The Means of Production: Contemporary Poetry and Literary Publishing (Srikanth (Chicu) Reddy)
This course will introduce students to the editorial principles, material and institutional infrastructure, and collaborative practices of literary evaluation in the making of contemporary American poetry. How does a poem 'make it' into the pages of Chicago Review . . . or The Paris Review? How do individual readers and editorial collectives imagine the work of literary assessment and aesthetic judgment in our time? We will begin the course with a survey of new directions in Anglophone poetry as a preparation for an intensive editorial practicum in the evaluation and assessment of literary manuscripts in the second half of the term. Course work will include reviewing and evaluating manuscript submissions to the Phoenix Poets book series at the University of Chicago Press.

CRWR 49300 - Thesis/Major Projects in Poetry (Margaret Ross)
This thesis workshop is for students writing a creative BA or MA thesis in poetry, as well as creative writing minors completing the portfolio. Because it is a thesis workshop, the course will focus on various ways of organizing larger poetic “projects.” We will consider the poetic sequence, the chapbook, and the poetry collection as ways of extending the practice of poetry beyond the individual lyric text. We will also problematize the notion of broad poetic “projects,” considering the consequences of imposing a predetermined conceptual framework on the elusive, spontaneous, and subversive act of lyric writing. Because this class is designed as a poetry workshop, your fellow students’ work will be the primary text over the course of the quarter. Required for CW majors and MAPH CW Option students completing creative BA and MA theses in poetry and CW minors completing minor portfolios in poetry.

ENGL 42918 - CDI Seminar: Exploratory Translation (Jennifer Scappettone)
Focusing on the theory, history and practice of poetic translation, this seminar includes sessions with invited theorists and practitioners from North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Taking translation to be an art of making sense that is transmitted together with a craft of shapes and sequences, we aim to account for social and intellectual pressures influencing translation projects. We deliberately foreground other frameworks beyond “foreign to English” and “olden epochs to modern”—and other methods than the “equivalence of meaning”—in order to aim at a truly general history and theory of translation that might both guide comparative cultural history and enlarge the imaginative resources of translators and readers of translation. In addition to reading and analysis of outside texts spanning such topics as semantic and grammatical interference, gain and loss, bilingualism, self-translation, pidgin, code-switching, translationese, and foreignization vs. nativization, students will be invited to try their hands at a range of tactics, aiming toward a final portfolio of annotated translations.

FREN 37701 - Baudelaire (Rosanna Warren)
[Taught in French] Une étude approfondie de l’oeuvre de Baudelaire. Nous lirons Les Fleurs du mal, Les Petits poèmes en prose, et morceaux choisis de sa critique d’art, essayant d’établir une perspective sur ce grand poète à la fois classique et romantique, un artiste tranditionnel et révolutionnaire qui a aide à créer la modernité. [An in-depth study of Baudelaire’s works. We will read Les Fleurs du mal, Les Petits poèmes en prose, and selections from his art criticism, in order to develop a perspective on this great poet, who was at once classical and romantic, a traditional and a revolutionary artist who helped create modernism.]

A list of course offerings specific to Creative Writing can be found at the Creative Writing course page. More courses related to Poetry and Poetics can be found on the English course page.

The Poetics Option

The MAPH Poetics Option is intended for students who are primarily interested in the critical study of poetry and poetics. Students who complete the following requirements will receive a Poetry and Poetics notation on their MAPH transcript:

  • The MAPH Core course (Foundations of Interpretive Theory)
  • The Poetics Seminar
  • One Pre-Romantic Poetry course
  • One Non-Anglophone Poetry course (can be studied in translation)
  • One Modern or Contemporary Poetry course
  • Complete a thesis with a relation to poetry and poetics under the supervision of a Poetics faculty member

Recent Poetics Thesis Projects

"Love, Poetry, and Meaning in Percy Shelley’s Jane Williams Poems"
Erkut Soyer, MAPH TLO '22
Advisor: Frances Ferguson

"Writing Affect In/Through Body Parts: The Aggressive Affectivity of Melancholia in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée"
Ziki Lei, MAPH '21
Advisor: Sianne Ngai

"The Death of a Chinese Poet: Lyricism, Voice, and Sociality in Yu Dafu’s “Sinking”"
Yanqing Shen, MAPH '21
Advisor: Haun Saussy

"‘Do not move! Just engage’: A Poetics of Metamorphosis in Hijikata’s Dance-Writing"
Caleigh Stephens, MAPH '21
Advisor: Jennifer Scappettone