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Lecture

ENGL 3007 Lecture Notes - Wallace Stevens, The Snow Man, Marcel Duchamp


Department
English
Course Code
ENGL 3007
Professor
Andrew Wallace

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Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens
Vice President of an Insurance company. Born 1879 in Pennsylvania. Died in 1955. Lived in
Vice President of an Insurance company. Born 1879 in Pennsylvania. Died in 1955. Lived in
Connecticut. Famous and well-respected poet. Parts of the World: audio biography of Stevens.
Connecticut. Famous and well-respected poet. Parts of the World: audio biography of Stevens.
Gave important lectures at Harvard and Yale; won several prizes (Pulitzer).
Gave important lectures at Harvard and Yale; won several prizes (Pulitzer).
Father was a wealthy lawyer. Attended Harvard. Law school at NYU. Works with law firms: goes from
Father was a wealthy lawyer. Attended Harvard. Law school at NYU. Works with law firms: goes from
Manhattan to Hartford. Wasn't advancing in his law career and found a way to advance by moving into
Manhattan to Hartford. Wasn't advancing in his law career and found a way to advance by moving into
insurance.
insurance.
Writes when he is young, takes a break, and then before 1920 he begins writing again: the poetry is
Writes when he is young, takes a break, and then before 1920 he begins writing again: the poetry is
amazing and makes up most of Harmonium. Still a prolific/respected poet until his death.
amazing and makes up most of Harmonium. Still a prolific/respected poet until his death.
Harmonium published when he is 44. Seems to regard human individuals as perceiving the world from
Harmonium published when he is 44. Seems to regard human individuals as perceiving the world from
a position of tension. His interests shift between what happens when the world operates on us and what
a position of tension. His interests shift between what happens when the world operates on us and what
happens when our imagination works on the world. Thus his poems are very abstract. What he's
happens when our imagination works on the world. Thus his poems are very abstract. What he's
frequently looking for is a way to account for a relationship between the individual mind and the world
frequently looking for is a way to account for a relationship between the individual mind and the world
in which it finds itself, and the relationship between those two things and other individuals.
in which it finds itself, and the relationship between those two things and other individuals.
Examining the patterns and meanings that people inscribe upon the world. A quasi-spiritual quest for
Examining the patterns and meanings that people inscribe upon the world. A quasi-spiritual quest for
something called the "supreme fiction": "poetry exceeding music, must take the place of empty heaven
something called the "supreme fiction": "poetry exceeding music, must take the place of empty heaven
and its hymns". Poetry is to do the work of something like religion. Religious stories are fiction that
and its hymns". Poetry is to do the work of something like religion. Religious stories are fiction that
have lost the value of captivating the imagination: poet as someone who must create a new mythology.
have lost the value of captivating the imagination: poet as someone who must create a new mythology.
Wants the supreme fiction to be something that we can believe, while knowing that it is fiction and
Wants the supreme fiction to be something that we can believe, while knowing that it is fiction and
untrue. Not about shaping our lives around this: about the imagination and faith in fictions. Not about
untrue. Not about shaping our lives around this: about the imagination and faith in fictions. Not about
eternal truths. The poet as a creator of new first things.
eternal truths. The poet as a creator of new first things.
"The issue here is not that poetry is asked to take the place of something; poetry is part of the same
"The issue here is not that poetry is asked to take the place of something; poetry is part of the same
imaginative capability that once sustained the gods of heavens". An incredibly spiritual man although
imaginative capability that once sustained the gods of heavens". An incredibly spiritual man although
he has clearly fallen away from religion.
he has clearly fallen away from religion.
Romanticism of the poet as seer: possesses a special insight into the nature of things.
Romanticism of the poet as seer: possesses a special insight into the nature of things.
• Harmonium (1923).
• Harmonium (1923).
Pulls together poems from 1913 onwards.
Pulls together poems from 1913 onwards.
The Snow Man
The Snow Man
Attaching surprising articles to words. His use of prepositions (in, on, upon). Interesting use of adverbs.
Attaching surprising articles to words. His use of prepositions (in, on, upon). Interesting use of adverbs.
Working with paradoxes and the relationship between positives and negatives: i.e. one MUST have a
Working with paradoxes and the relationship between positives and negatives: i.e. one MUST have a
mind… NOT to think.
mind… NOT to think.
Repetitions that jump across stanzas, to tie and make the poem flow together : i.e.: sound, snow.
Repetitions that jump across stanzas, to tie and make the poem flow together : i.e.: sound, snow.
An ambition not to fuse with the regular emotions tied to wind and snow: train the mind into a not
An ambition not to fuse with the regular emotions tied to wind and snow: train the mind into a not
thinking such as to get "truth".
thinking such as to get "truth".
Nuances of a Theme by Williams
Nuances of a Theme by Williams
About William Carlos Williams and his appetite for spare, minimalist poetry. A
About William Carlos Williams and his appetite for spare, minimalist poetry. A
response/extension to Williams poem "El Hombre". The italics is Williams' poem.
response/extension to Williams poem "El Hombre". The italics is Williams' poem.
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