New Course to be Offered for Humanities Core Requirement

The course will study the techniques, concepts, and social implications of poetry from various cultures.

By Lauren Pankin

A new course called Poetry and the Human will be offered beginning in Autumn 2017. This course will fulfill the Humanities Core requirement. 

The course will study the techniques, concepts, and social implications of poetry from various cultures, according to a University press release. Unlike other Hum courses, it presents the option of taking a creative writing poetry course in the spring, which can satisfy a quarter of either the Humanities Core requirement or the Arts Core requirement. 

Na’ama Rokem, associate professor in the Departments of Comparative Literature and of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, led the course’s development along with Sarah Nooter, associate professor in the Department of Classics. 

Nooter said she was inspired to create Poetry and the Human two years ago. “There was a moment when I looked at the list of classes and tried to imagine what I would have wanted to take as an 18-year-old,” Nooter said. “I was looking for a class which spoke to me, and I didn’t see it.” 

According to the preliminary syllabus, Poetry and the Human will include the works of Sappho, Homer, Catullus, Hafez, Ki no Tsurayuki, John Donne, Louis Zukofsky, Dahlia Ravikovitch, Anne Carson, N. Scott Momaday, and Claudia Rankine, as well as poems from China’s Tang period. 

A faculty meeting later this quarter will compile a more comprehensive list of poems, Nooter said. Approximately 30 professors have been involved in the program’s development thus far, with over than 20 professors representing more than 10 departments slated to teach the course during the 2017–18 academic year. 

During the first three years of any new Hum sequence, only junior and senior professors are permitted to instruct the course. According to Nooter, implementing new material often involves unforeseen challenges. Older Core Humanities sequences are also taught by Harper-Schmidt Fellows and graduate students. 

According to the syllabus, Poetry and the Human will investigate the role of poetry in society in regard to memory, storytelling, and history; ritual and magic; knowledge and formation of selfhood; and institution and revolution. 

“Poetry is not an apolitical, removed event, and it’s especially important now,” Nooter said. 

The third quarter creative writing Art Core option coincides with the new creative writing major, which will be offered starting in the 2017–18 academic year. Nooter said the sequence was not devised with this explicitly in mind, but that she would love to have students with no creative writing experience feel confident enough to experiment with classes in the new major. 

Nooter said that even if students do not take further creative writing or poetry courses at the University, she hopes students develop and refine skills in this course that they can later apply to other academic realms. 

“I would want students finishing the Poetry and the Human course to read and notice things in precise and pointed ways, because that is how the best scholarship starts,” Nooter said.