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Unit information: Poetry of the 1960s in 2020/21

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Unit name Poetry of the 1960s
Unit code ENGL20032
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Wootten
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts


On this unit, we shall examine English and American poetry of the 1960s, concentrating upon the major volumes of that decade. Each week we shall examine a different book of poetry. These will be drawn from across the range of different poetries that defined the poetry of the 1960s and which have continued to influence poetry written in the years since. Along with the opportunity to pay close attention to the works themselves, there will be the chance to read the poetry in the light of a variety of illuminating contexts, be they social, political, philosophical or biographical. We shall also look at the poetry of the sixties more widely, at poetic movements such as confessionalism, beat poetry, projective verse and The Movement, and at influential critical voices and anthologies.

Students will be given the opportunity to submit a draft or outline of their final, summative essay of up to 1,500 words and to receive feedback on this.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will have:

(1) developed a detailed understanding of some of the most important volumes of English and American poetry of the 1960s;

(2) developed an ability to situate poetry within a range of relevant historical and intellectual contexts;

(3) demonstrated the ability to understand and evaluate a range of different poetics and critical positions;

(4) strengthened their skills in argumentation and academic writing.

Teaching details

Teaching will involve asynchronous and synchronous elements, including group discussion, research and writing activities, and peer dialogue. Students are expected to engage with the reading and participate fully with the weekly tasks and topics. Learning will be further supported through the opportunity for individual consultation.

Assessment Details

  • 1 x 3000 word essay (100%) [ILOs 1-4]

Reading and References

Sylvia Plath, Ariel (London: Faber & Faber, 1968).

Frank O’Hara, Lunch Poems (San Francisco: City Lights, 1986).

Basil Bunting, Briggflatts (Newcastle: Bloodaxe, 2009).

Philip Larkin, The Whitsun Weddings (London: Faber and Faber, 2001).

Ted Hughes, Lupercal (London: Faber and Faber, 1985).

Ed Dorn, Gunslinger (London: Duke University Press, 1989).