Overview: The early poetry of Elizabeth Bishop is discussed. The poet is positioned as an endpoint to modernism, and in her essay "Dimensions for a Novel," a response to Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent," Bishop is shown to transfer Eliot's concept of "tradition" to the construction of literary works. The poem "The Map" is presented as an expression of Bishop's early thinking about geography and world-making. "The Gentleman of Shalott" is considered as a contemplation of the process of perception. Finally, "Sandpiper" is read as a meditation on the challenges of locating coherence in a shifting world.
This course covers the body of modern poetry, its characteristic techniques, concerns, and major practitioners. The authors discussed range from Yeats, Eliot, and Pound, to Stevens, Moore, Bishop, and Frost with additional lectures on the poetry of World War One, Imagism, and the Harlem Renaissance. Diverse methods of literary criticism are employed, such as historical, biographical, and gender criticism.