Image, author, poem
(Kép, szerző, vers)
2008 Autumn
Tuesdays 15.00–16.30 Room 443

A seminar held at
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest (ELTE); Faculty of Arts (BTK)
School of English and American Studies (SEAS)
Department of English Studies (DES)

The aim of this course is to look at poems from the end of the 19th century from a structuralist point of view, to search for spatial or visual arrangements in the texts in order to see how they achieve meaning. While our discussions shall be guided by a particular framework of concepts that I wish to introduce during the course of the seminar, you will be encouraged to contest and debate any of the propositions and develop your own approach to the poems under scrutiny. Besides the problem of meaning, discussions will also revolve around the place of the author in literature.

The poems are selected from the avant-garde, l'art pour l'art, and Decadent poetry of the 1890s. Familiarity with the primary and secondary texts, as well as active participation in the discussions will be a must.

Set texts
  • Primary texts
    • Texts to be discussed
    • Further texts
      • Oscar Wilde
        - Symphony in Yellow - etext
      • Arthur Symons
        - Javanese Dancers - etext
        - At the Cavour
        - Pastel
      • Ernest Dowson
        - Villanelle of Marguerites
        - Vesperal
      • Lionel Johnson
        - By the Statue of King Charles... - etext
        - The Precept of Silence - etext (scroll down)
        - The Troopship
      • Laurence Binyon
        - The Little Dancers
        - The Builders
  • Secondary texts
    • FROM Fizer, John. Alexander A. Potebnja's Psycholinguistic Theory of Literature: A Metacritical Inquiry (In the SEAS library, among photocopied / photocopiable material made available by teachers. Ask library staff for help)
      • Introduction
      • FROM Chapter One: 1.5 (The Word as an Analogue...), 1.7 (Conclusion)
      • Chapter Two
    • Lévi-Strauss, Claude. "The Structural Study of Myth." IN Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Mass.: Blackwell, 1998. 101–115.
    • Eliot, T. S. "Tradition and the Individual Talent." IN 20th Century Literary Criticism: A Reader. Ed. David Lodge. London: Longman, 1972. 71–77.
    • Schorer, Mark. "Technique as Discovery." IN 20th Century Literary Criticism: A Reader. Ed. David Lodge. London: Longman, 1972. 386–400.
    • Jakobson, Roman. "Linguistics and Poetics." IN Modern Criticism and Theory: A Reader. Ed. David Lodge. London: Longman, 1988. 32–57.
    • Csirmaz, Előd Pál. "A Brief Introduction to the Representational Framework." Available on-line here.
Requirements & Assessment
  • You will be asked to prepare a series of short essays or notes (about one third of a page, single spaced) on the poems discussed prior to the class.
  • Presentations on secondary texts (about 15–20 minutes) in which you give a clear outline of the argument in the given text will be welcome.
  • One longer essay to be submitted at the end of the term in which you analyse one or more poems from the two lists above, but preferably from the second one. (You can also select other poems from the period, but please notify me in advance.) The required length of the essays is about 4 pages (single-spaced); those who give presentations will only have to submit 3 pages. Please cite at least two references in the essay, and use the CMS reference system. A short guide is available here.
  • Assessment: Familiarity with the texts, active participation, and short essays: 60% Longer essay and presentation: 40%
  • If you miss a class, please read the relevant sections of "A Brief Introduction to the Representational Framework" on the concepts introduced (always noted in the schedule below), as we will build upon them during the following class.
  • 1. 9 Sep. Introduction
  • 2. 16 Sep. Arthur Symons: "At Dieppe" / "At Glan-y-Wern". Properties of the mineme. View and vision. Blake: "The Garden of Love"
  • 3. 23 Sep. Claude Lévi-Strauss. Ernest Dowson: "Cynarae". Thomas Hardy: "The Darkling Thrush". Image, exhibit, theme
  • 4. 30 Sep. Arthur Symons: "The Last Memory" (and "At Dieppe"). Metathesis, layers I, II, and III
  • 5. 7 Oct. T. S. Eliot. William Ernest Henley: In Hospital / "II Waiting". Ernest Dowson: "Vain Resolves" (and "Cynarae"). Effects of wide / narrow metathesis, lyrical I, alienation
  • 6. 14 Oct. Fizer / Potebnja. Binyon: "Eleonora Duse". Texts without metathesis
  • 7. 21 Oct. Fizer / Potebnja: the two types of images. View and vision, layers A and B, simile, metaphor, symbol, and myth. Thomas Hardy: "Neutral Tones". Charles Baudelaire: "Le chat". Oscar Wilde: "The Harlot's House"
  • 8. 28 Oct. Autumn break
  • 9. 4 Nov. Layers A and B. Mark Schorer. Lionel Pigot Johnson: "The Dark Angel"
  • 10. 11 Nov. Lionel Pigot Johnson: "The Dark Angel". Oscar Wilde: "Requiescat"
  • 11. 18 Nov. -- cancelled --
  • 12. 25 Nov. Laurence Binyon: "A Woman". Roman Jakobson. Arthur Symons: "The Opium-Smoker"
  • 13. 2 Dec. Oscar Wilde: "Impression du matin". Laurence Binyon: "Fog". Emily Dickinson: "The Chariot". Deadline for the long essays.
  • 14. 9 Dec. Evaluation