Overview: Marie Borroff guest-lectures on Wallace Stevens's late seasonal poem, "The Auroras of Autumn." The poem is considered sequentially, beginning with Stevens's mythology of the three serpents in section one and concluding with an examination of the beauty of the world, as Stevens conceives of it, in sections eight through ten. The poet's optimism and fundamental belief in the power of imagination to divest death of its power is repeatedly demonstrated. The poem's final sections are shown to exemplify characteristically Stevensian conceptions of peace and happiness in the face of death.
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.