Neil Arditi

Neil Arditi

Undergraduate Discipline

Literature

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–

Current undergraduate courses

Eight American Poets

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 Cross-Discipline Paths

First-Year Studies: Romantic Poetry and Its Consequences

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

Previous courses

Elective Affinities in American Poetry

Year

American poetry has multiple origins and a vast array of modes and variations. In this course, we will focus our attention on a double handful of North American poets writing in English and largely indebted (whether they admit it or not) to the visionary strain in 19th-century Romanticism. We will begin our readings with Whitman and Dickinson, and those two fountainheads of American poetry will provide a vivid context for the comparison and contrast of all that follows. Here are some other topics that will engage our attention as we proceed: Hart Crane’s ambivalent reaction to the modernism of T. S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop’s apprenticeship to Marianne Moore, the controversies surrounding Frost’s traditionalism, and the decisive influence of Wallace Stevens on John Ashbery. Our central task will be to appreciate and articulate the unique strengths of each of the poems we encounter through close, imaginative readings and informed speculation. 

Faculty

First-Year Studies: Romantic Poetry and Its Legacies

FYS

In this course, we will be reading and discussing the most influential poets writing in English from William Blake to T. S. Eliot. One of the assumptions of the course is that modern poetry originates in the Romantic era. In the wake of the French Revolution, Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge invented a new kind of autobiographical poem that largely internalized the myths they inherited. We will trace the impact of their work on poets from the second generation of Romantics through the early modernists, many of whom sought to break with Romanticism. 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, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Whitman, Dickinson, Tennyson, Browning, Rossetti, Frost, Stevens, Yeats, and T. S. Eliot. 

Faculty

Romantic Poetry and Its Consequences

Year

In this course, we will read and discuss some of the most influential poetry in the English language written during the last two centuries. One of the assumptions of the course is that modern poetry originates in the Romantic era. In the wake of the French Revolution, 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 modernists, many of whom sought to break with Romanticism but increasingly seem, instead, to have reinterpreted and extended its legacy. 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, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Whitman, Dickinson, Tennyson, Browning, Rossetti, Hardy, Frost, Stevens, Yeats, and T. S. Eliot. 

Faculty