Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 592: There is an Otherness Inside Us: An Exploration of Contemporary Southern Poetry

Instructor: Ashley Hudson

"That lonely fir, which always seems
As though it locked dark secrets in itself"

Henry Timrod, from "A Rhapsody of a Southern Winter Night"

"We are our final vocabulary,
and how we use it.
There is no secret contingency.
There's only the rearrangement, the redescription
Of little and mortal things.
There's only this single body, this tiny garment
Gathering the past against itself,
making it otherwise."

Charles Wright , from "Tennessee Line"

By looking at a scope of Southern poetry—from Confederate Civil War poems on up through the Fugitives and Agrarians and into contemporary Southern poetry being written today—this course will address what it means to be a Southern poet today. We'll explore the questions: What defines a Southern poet? What are the traditions of Southern poetry? What did it mean to be a Southern poet at different points in history, and how has the genre changed through time? What is the future of Southern poetry? We will navigate these topics through the themes of storytelling, portrayals of the pastoral, and nostalgia.

This course will emphasize reading and discussion with an additional focus on the development of critical thinking skills related to the subject matter. Written requirements include brief critical responses in the form of weekly discussions and a final project on a topic related to material discussed in class. No prior poetry writing experience necessary.

Required texts:

  • The Made Thing: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern Poetry, 2nd Edition, ed. by Leon Stokesbury; ISBN-10: 1557285799; ISBN-13: 978-1557285799

  • The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, ed. by Nikky Finney; ISBN-10: 0820329266; ISBN-13: 978-0820329260

  • Elegy for the Southern Drawl, by Rodney Jones; ISBN-10: 0618082492; ISBN-13: 978-0618082490

  • The Common Man, by Maurice Manning; ISBN-10: 0544303393; ISBN-13: 978-0544303393

  • Native Guard, by Natasha Trethewey; ISBN-10: 0618872655; ISBN-13: 978-0618872657

  • Sassing, by Karen Head; ISBN-10: 1934999598; ISBN-13: 978-1934999592

  • Hick Poetics, ed. by Shelly Taylor and Abraham Smith; ISBN-10: 0918786614; ISBN-13: 978-0918786616

Online Readings: Please see our course website for online readings. The Blackboard course will be made available no later than the first day of class in Spring 2018.

Updated: May 12, 2017