Details

Instructors: 
  • John James
Schedule:
May 13, 20th, 27th, & June 3 from 1-4pm

Out of stock

$225.00

Share this class

On the Sublime: Writing the Contemporary Ode

“the ode [is] the perfect means of expressing the sublime”

—Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics

Since the Greeks, that nebulous poetic form known as the ode (if we can even call it a “form”) has been associated with praise, but also — and more importantly — with rhetorical, emotional, and even topographical “height.” The odes of Pindar celebrate the virtues of warriors and athletic heroes, but by the eighteenth century, odes very often depict Romantic mountains, crags, and deep-cleft cliffs. Yet even in the classical period, as in the crucial treatise of Longinus, the feeling associated with this form — the sublime — slips between emotional and physical elevation. (Longinus’s Peri Hypsous can be translated, for instance, as “On the Sublime” or, more accurately, “On Height.”) In the modern world, this baffling juncture between the physically and emotionally “high” spurs Immanuel Kant to declare that sublime objects “over-bear the mind” and “cast it into a pleasing kind of stupor and admiration.” Hybridizing elements of the writing workshop and the literary seminar, this course investigates the contentious relationship between sublimity and the ode. How, we might ask, does this type of poem capture such a curious (mis)alignment of emotion and physical space? How might the emotional power of the ode be used to interrogate other subjects? Might we, as poets, utilize the ode or the “pleasing stupor” it evokes to refigure our human relationship to a rapidly changing physical environment? Readings will range from the classical period to the contemporary, including works by Pindar, Horace, William Collins, Percy Shelley, Anne Carson, Jorie Graham, Pablo Neruda, Brian Teare, Benjamin Garcia, José Olivarez, and others. We will conclude by attempting to compose our own odes and workshopping these pieces together as a class.

***No experience with the ode or poetic form is necessary for this class. I ask only that you approach this course with a willingness to read and to think adventurously.

About John James

John James is the author of The Milk Hours, selected by Henri Cole for the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize (Milkweed, 2019), as well as two chapbooks: Chthonic, winner of the 2014 CutBank Chapbook Prize, and Winter, Glossolalia, published in 2022 by London’s Black Sprint Press Group. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Boston Review, Kenyon Review, Poetry Northwest, Best American Poetry, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, among other publications.

Also a scholar, John writes on poetry and poetics across a wide range of time, with specializations in Romanticism and ecocriticism. He has presented papers at Yale University, the University of Chicago, and NAVSA’s 2017 Victorian Preserves conference in Banff, Alberta. His dissertation explores the role of genre and poetic form in negotiating an emergent concept of environment in the later eighteenth century.

His work has been supported by fellowships and awards from the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference, the Academy of American Poets, and Georgetown University’s Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. He splits his time between Kentucky and California, where he is pursuing a PhD in English and Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley.

About Virtual Classes

Virtual classes are usually based on video conferencing. At the moment we use Zoom. Instructors may utilize email as well as the specific ‘class page’ to share materials.

Class pages are accessible to students through their account page.  CLICK HERE to visit your account.

Each class is different, and Ruth Stone House allows a wide degree of freedom to instructors as to how they run their classes. If you miss a class or have technical problems you can request a video link to the class you missed. 

Technical requirements:

In order to attend a Zoom based class, make sure you meet these technical requirements: Click here

We also require that you have access to email service to use Ruth Stone House Classroom.

Have more questions? CONTACT US.

Financial Aid

FInancial aid is applied for on a class by class basis. Not all classes offer financial aid. There is a limited amount of funding available, and aid is awarded in the order received.

This financial aid form is for:

On the Sublime: Writing the Contemporary Ode

Join the mailing list