Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE British Poetry after 1945

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course




The study-unit provides an introduction to major currents in British poetry after the Second World War and allows for more detailed study of the work of three poets.


The first lectures in the unit will:
• review the legacy of modernist poetry and the ‘anxiety of influence’ to which it has given rise within the work of more recent poets;
• explain the importance of W. H. Auden’s poetry as a significant body of work that allows for some continuity between modernist and later twentieth-century poetry in Britain;
• identify poets (e.g. Basil Bunting, Dylan Thomas, Geoffrey Hill and Anne Stevenson) whose work, though not selected for more detailed study in the course, has been particularly influential in shaping the development of British poetry since 1945, and provide a brief review of their work;
• assess the extent to which British poetry after 1945 has been influenced by other poetic traditions.

Subsequent lectures will be devoted to more focused study of selections from the work of three poets: Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes, and Seamus Heaney. Towards the end of the unit there will be some discussion of the most recent trends in British poetry and of the current state of poetry publishing in Britain. The poems for detailed study will be taken from:
• Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996 (London: Faber and Faber, 1998)
• Ted Hughes, Collected Poems (London: Faber and Faber, 2005)
• Philip Larkin, Collected Poems (London: Faber and Faber, 2003)

Reading List

Selected Reading

- Acheson, James, and Romana Huk, eds, Contemporary British Poetry: Essays in Theory and Criticism (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1996).
- Broom, Sarah, Contemporary British and Irish Poetry (London: Palgrave, 2006).
- Corcoran, Neil, English Poetry since 1940 (London: Longman, 1993).
- Corcoran, Neil, The Poetry of Seamus Heaney: A Critical Study (London: Faber and Faber, 1998).
- Corcoran, Neil, The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century English Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
- Easthope, Antony, and John O. Thompson, eds, Contemporary Poetry Meets Modern Theory (London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991).
- Feinstein, Elaine, Ted Hughes: The Life of a Poet (New York: Norton, 2003).
- Larkin, Philip, Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces 1955-1982 (London: Faber and Faber, 1983).
- Marsh, Nicholas, Philip Larkin: The Poems (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
- Motion, Andrew, Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life (London: Faber and Faber, 1994).
- O’Driscoll, Dennis, Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney (London: Faber and Faber, 2009).
- Reid, Christopher, ed., Letters of Ted Hughes (London: Faber and Faber, 2007).
- Sagar, Keith, The Laughter of Foxes: A Study of Ted Hughes (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2006).


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Take Home Examination (3 Hours) SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S James David Corby

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.