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LIT 61 — Poems and Paintings: In Search of Pleasure

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 4—Jun 6
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Apr 6
Units: 2
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $520
Instructor(s): Nicholas Jenkins
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Cancelled
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Apr 4—Jun 6
10 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 6
2 Units
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Nicholas Jenkins
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Do you love poetry, paintings, or perhaps both? Have you found that the more you attended to one of these forms, the more you understood about the other? This course begins with the assumption that the arts are in dialogue with each other. Our time in class will be rooted in group discussion and dialogue as well. Each week, we will look at several pairings of classic poems and enduring visual artworks. Sometimes these sets will include poems directly inspired by paintings or vice versa. Sometimes we will juxtapose paintings and poems that have no direct documentary connection but explore similar emotional and psychological terrains—love, grief, shame, joy, revelation, lostness, uncertainty, melodrama, secrets, the world of dreams.

Our goal is not to make firm conclusions but to enhance our ability to understand, enjoy, and react articulately to poems and paintings. The American poet Wallace Stevens wrote of poetry, "It must give pleasure." That will be our touchstone—that the more we enjoy the arts, the more we may aspire to understand them, and the more we understand the arts, the more pleasure we may find.

Artists and poets whose creations we will study together include Rubens, Bishop, Dalí, Hopper, Cavafy, Hayden, Dickinson, Auden, Bruegel, Hiroshige, Graham, and van Gogh.

Associate Professor of English, Stanford

Nicholas Jenkins is the primary investigator for Kindred Britain, a digital humanities website that traces relationships among nearly 30,000 British people. He has contributed to the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, and The New Yorker. He received a DPhil from the University of Oxford.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Czeslaw Milosz, A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry (ISBN 978-0156005746)
(Required) Rainer Hagen and Rose-Marie Hagen, What Great Paintings Say: 100 Masterpieces in Detail, 2nd edition only (ISBN 978-3836577496)