Constructing Identities: Self, Subject and Persona in Contemporary Poetry - EN51004

Quick Facts

  • Postgraduate
  • 40 Credits
  • Semester 1
  • English - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%

Module Details

This module explores in depth theoretical and aesthetic debates in contemporary British poetry, associated with ideas of the self and its role in poetry, and related issues such as gender, the environment, and the significance of formal innovation and experimentation in poetry. The module will place contemporary poetry, and the critical debates surrounding it, in its literary historical context, by reference to the Romantic and Modernist roots of certain ideas and competing paradigms.


Prof Andrew Roberts


Week 1 - Romantic Legacies (1)

  • William Wordsworth, ‘There Was a Boy’, and Books I and II of The Prelude (1805 version)
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ‘Dejection: An Ode’ and ‘This Lime Tree Bower’

Week 2 - Romantic Legacies (2)

  • Byron, Don Juan, Cantos I and II
  • John Keats, ‘Ode to a Nightingale’

Week 3 - Modernist Legacies (1)

  • T.S. Eliot, ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’
  • T.S. Eliot, ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ and The Waste Land

Week 4 - Modernist Legacies (2)

  • Mina Loy, ‘Parturition’, ‘Three Moments in Paris’, ‘Giovanni Franchi’, ‘The Effectual Marriage’, ‘Songs to Joannes’, ‘The Widow’s Jazz’, Feminist Manifesto, from The Lost Lunar Baedeker, ed. Roger L. Conover (Carcanet, 1997) 

Week 5 - Late Modernist Strategies: Geoffrey Hill

  • Geoffrey Hill, Speech! Speech!

Week 6 – Reading Week

Week 7 Postmodernist Negotiations: Denise Riley and Connie Scozzaro

  • Denise Riley, poems from Selected Poems (Reality Street Editions, 2000)
  • Connie Scozzaro, poems from Contrapposto Action Queen (Bad Press, 2013)

 Week 8 Self, Perception and Ecosystem

  • The Ground Aslant: An Anthology of Radical Landscape Poetry, ed. Harriet Tarlo (Shearsman, 2011)

Week 9 – Formal Innovation in Women’s Poetry

  • Out of Everywhere: Linguistically Innovative Poetry by Women in North America and the UK, ed. Maggie O’ Sullivan (Reality Street, 1996)

Weeks 10 – 12

Texts to be confirmed; will reflect student interests.


Coursework makes up 100% of the assessment, as follows:

  • Essay (30%)
  • Research Essay (70%)


Access the online reading list system

Access the online reading list system