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Transnationalism and Cold War Poetry I

Class at Faculty of Arts |


1. Introduction

2. Methods of Transmission I: World Literature Pascale Casanova, from The World Republic of Letters, chapter 1, "Principles of a World Literature History"; passages from the rest of the book.Christopher Prendergast, Introduction and "The World Republic of Letters" from Debating World LiteratureDavid Damrosch, What is World Literature? Introduction & ConclusionFranco Moretti, "Conjectures on World Literature"

3. Methods of Transmission II: Transnationalism Khagram, Sanjeev, and Peggy Levitt, eds. The Transnational Studies Reader (2008), ch. 1Jahan Ramazani, A Transnational Poetics (2009), ch. 1 and 2

4. Cold War Cold War Politics and Culture TimelineGeorge Kennan, Long Telegram

5. Cold War Culture Pavla Veselá, "Literature in the Cold War"David Monod, "‘He is a Cripple an’ Needs my Love’: Porgy and Bess as Cold War Propaganda". In The Cultural Cold War in Western Europe, 1945-1960. Eds Hans Krabbendam and Giles Scott-Smith (2003), 252-62.Adam Piette, The Literary Cold War: 1945 to Vietnam (2009). Introduction and ch. 3Frances Stonor-Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Letters (2000), Introduction and ch. 15

6. Poetry: Czech Context (8-15 Nov) Antonín Brousek, ed. Podivuhodní kouzelníci: čítanka českého stalinismu v řeči vázané z let 1945-55 (1987), AfterwordPavel Kosatík. Fenomén Kohout. Chapters "Poezie", "Trefulka". 111-22.Selections from Brousek anthology

7. The View from Prague: Zábrana’s America (22 Nov) Jan Zábrana, ed. Pátá roční doba: americká radikální poezie (1959)Justin Quinn, ‘Between Two Fires: Poetry and Cold War Translation’

8. Poetry of the American Left (29 Nov) Alan Filreis. "Modern Poetry and Anticommunism" (2005)Cary Nelson, "From the Great Depression to the Red Scare: The Poetry of Edwin Rolfe" (2001)Thomas McGrath, selection from Movie at the End of the WorldThomas McGrath Links:   6 December: Presentation by Brian Goodman on Philip Roth, Ivan Klíma and Cold War Prose.

9. Jan Zábrana’s Cold War Poetry (13-20 Dec) Stránky z deníku (1968)


How did the Cold War - as theme, translation practice and hermeneutic activity - affect the reading of literature, in particular poetry? How did those particular historical circumstances change the nature of World Literature? Can literature, or more particularly poetry, survive as an autonomous space, irreducible to historical or ideological circumstances? What does such transmission tell us about the way that anglophone culture absorbs new models, during the Cold War, and beyond?

In the first semester we will begin with the theoretical discourses of both World Literature and Transnationalism, then test these against cultural praxis in the Cold War by considering the Czech context of the 1950s, with especial reference to the Czech poet and translator, Jan Zábrana. Consideration of Zábrana's transnational scope enables new readings of US poetry in the period. Knowledge of Czech is required.

Although this course stretches over two semesters, students may take only one component if they wish.

American Literature Specialization

Irish Studies Specialization

English Literature Specialization

Students from Comparative Literature and Czech Literature also welcome.

Study programmes