Neil Arditi

Neil Arditi

Undergraduate Discipline

Literature

The Esther Raushenbush Chair

BA, Yale University. MA, PhD, University of Virginia. Special interest in British Romantic poetry, Romantic legacies in modern and contemporary poetry, and the history of criticism and theory. Essays published in Raritan, Parnassus, Keats-Shelley Journal, Philosophy and Literature, and Jewish-American Dramatists and Poets. SLC, 2001–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Literature

High Romantic Poetry: Blake to Dickinson

Open , Seminar—Spring

In this course, we will explore the work of seven major poets writing in English between the French Revolution and the American Civil War. One of the goals of the course is to demonstrate the ways in which modern poetry originated in this period. In the wake of the French Revolution, Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge invented a new kind of autobiographical poetry that internalized the myths that they had inherited from literary and religious traditions. The poet’s inner life became the inescapable subject of the poem. We will trace the impact of this innovation on two subsequent generations of poets: the second generation English Romantics, Shelley and Keats; and the fountainheads of the visionary strain in American poetry, Whitman and Dickinson. Our preeminent goal will be to appreciate each poet’s—indeed, each poem’s—unique contribution to the language. Our understanding of literary and historical trends and influences will emerge largely from our close, imaginative reading of texts.

Faculty

Nine Modern Poets: Dickinson to Ashbery

Intermediate , Seminar—Year

This course will focus on some of the most influential poets writing in English in the 20th century, with particular emphasis on the first half of the century—a period of self-proclaimed “modernism” in the arts. We will begin our readings in the 19th century, however, with the poetry of Emily Dickinson, whose style and procedure so vividly anticipate later developments in poetry. Other authors will include Thomas Hardy, W. B. Yeats, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, T. S. Eliot, Hart Crane, Elizabeth Bishop, and John Ashbery. Some of the poems that we will be reading are (or may seem) accessible on a superficial level, presenting challenges to interpretation only on closer inspection; other poems—most notably, the poems of Stevens, Eliot, Crane, and Ashbery—present significant challenges at the most fundamental level of comprehension. The major prerequisite for this course is a willingness to grapple with literary difficulty and with passages of poetry that are, at times, wholly baffling or highly resistant to paraphrase. We will seek to paraphrase them anyway, or account as best we can for the meanings they create out of the meanings they evade. Our central task will be to appreciate and articulate the unique strengths of each of the poems that we encounter through close, imaginative reading and informed speculation.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Romantic Poetry and Its Consequences

Open , Seminar—Year
In this course, we will be reading and discussing many of the most influential poems written in the English language during the last two centuries. One of the assumptions of the course is that modern poetry originates in the Romantic era, which will occupy our attention for a full semester. In the wake of the French Revolution, Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge invented a new kind of autobiographical poem that largely internalized the myths that they inherited. We will trace the impact of their work on poets from the second generation of Romantics through the early Modernist poets. Our preeminent goal will be to appreciate each poet’s—indeed, each poem’s—unique contribution to the language. Our understanding of literary and historical trends will emerge from the close, imaginative reading of texts. Authors will include Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Whitman, Dickinson, Tennyson, Browning, Rossetti, Hardy, Frost, Stevens, Yeats, and T. S. Eliot.
Faculty

Eight American Poets

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Year

American poetry has multiple origins and a vast array of modes and variations. In this course, we will focus our attention on the trajectories of eight major American poetic careers. We will begin with Whitman and Dickinson, those fountainheads of the visionary strain in American poetic tradition, before turning to Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, T. S. Eliot, Hart Crane, Elizabeth Bishop, and John Ashbery. Some of the poems that we will be reading are accessible on a superficial level and present challenges to interpretation only on closer inspection; other poems—most notably, the poems of Dickinson, Stevens, Eliot, and Crane—present significant challenges at the most basic level of interpretation. The major prerequisite for this course is, therefore, attitudinal: a willingness to grapple with literary difficulty and with passages of poetry that are, at times, wholly baffling or highly resistant to paraphrase. We will seek to paraphrase them anyway—or account, as best we can, for the meanings that they create out of the meanings that they evade. Our central task will be to appreciate and articulate the unique strengths of each of the poems (and poets) that we encounter through close, imaginative reading and informed speculation.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

First-Year Studies: Romantic Poetry and Its Consequences

Open , FYS

In this course, we will be reading and discussing many of the most influential poems written in the English language during the last two centuries. One of the assumptions of the course is that modern poetry originates in the Romantic era, which will occupy our attention for a full semester. In the wake of the French Revolution, Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge invented a new kind of autobiographical poem that largely internalized the myths that they inherited. We will trace the impact of their work on poets from the second generation of Romantics through the early Modernist poets. Our pre-eminent goal will be to appreciate each poet’s—indeed, each poem’s—unique contribution to the language. Our understanding of literary and historical trends will emerge from the close, imaginative reading of texts. Authors will include Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Whitman, Dickinson, Tennyson, Browning, Rossetti, Hardy, Frost, Stevens, Yeats, and T. S. Eliot.

Faculty