4 oct. 2010

Jonathan Mayhew

Spring 2011
Spanish 764: Modern Spanish Poetry

This course will introduce students to a more or less canonical selection of twentieth-century Spanish poetry, including poets like Machado, Jiménez, Lorca, Rodríguez, and Rossetti, but it will also have a triple thematic focus. One idea many students have about poetry is that it reflects an ethereal realm of purity, far removed from the grittier aspects of reality. Yet a reading of major poets reveals obsessions with sex, violence, and intoxication, as well as with the same themes under more conventional names like love and death.


Poetry often sacralizes violence, stages it as an aesthetic spectacle, or eroticizes it. We will read Antonio Machado’s “La tierra de Alvargonzález,” Federico García Lorca’s Romancero gitano, Miguel Hernández’s civil-war poetry, and Ana Rossetti’s sexualization of traditional hagiography, among other texts, in order to understand the dynamics of poetic violence. René Girard’s Violence and the Sacred and similar texts will provide a theoretical framework.


Sexual identity is a constant preoccupation for poets like Lorca, Luis Cernuda, Jaime Gil de Biedma, and many younger women poets of the ‘80s and ‘90s. We will look at the relative visibility of gay male poetry in contrast to the virtual invisibility of Lesbian poets.

Sexuality is also tied to violence in the work of many poets. Vicente Aleixandre’s Espadas como labios comes to mind. Eve Sedgwick’s Epistomology of the Closet and Terry Castle’s The Apparitional Lesbian will be required reading for this segment of the course.

Mind-Altering Substances:

We will examine poetry itself as “the ultimate mind-altering substance” (Rita Felski) and at the way in which Spanish poets continue the Baudelarian tradition of “artificial paradises.” We will consider the role of alcohol or “ebriedad” in Claudio Rodríguez, Antonio Gamoneda’s reflection on pharmaceuticals in Libro de los venenos, and Blanca Andreu’s insertion into the drug culture of the 1980s in De una niña de provincias. We will also refer to Germán Labrador Méndez’s new study of poetry and drug use in the Spain of the transition, Las letras arrebatadas.

1 comentario:

Jake dijo...

Sounds like fun!