Stanford University
ENGLISH 150F: W. B. Yeats
Winter 2006

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W. B. Yeats (1865-1939) lived through some of the most significant transitions (poetic and historical) of the modern period. This seminar will carefully examine Yeats's work, above all his poetry but also parts of his voluminous prose writings and two of his numerous plays, in relation to these changes. Nationality, nationalism, fascism, the imagination, sexuality, the occult, modernity, Irishness these are some of the themes that will focus our reading of Yeats's work during the quarter.

The seminar will make an effort to assess Yeats's place and role in literary history, setting him in relation to his poetic precursors, contemporaries, and successors. We will also look at how Yeats's words have re-entered history and been read and used (or mis-used) in a variety of political contexts.

This course will range widely in trying to describe some of the widely varying and sometimes very strange contexts and milieux within which Yeats's poetry was created. (For example, the picture on the left is a "spirit photograph" of Yeats, taken during a seance in Paris around 1914.) But we will also be spending a lot of time engaging in close readings and discussion of individual poems.


Meeting Time & Place
3.15 - 5.05 pm - Building 160, Room 330

Instructors Office Hours & Location
Nicholas Jenkins T 9.30-10.30 W 9-11, Building 460, Room 213

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