Approaches to Teaching H.D.’s Poetry and Prose

  • Editors: Annette Debo, Lara Vetter
  • Pages: x & 208 pp.
  • Published: 2011
  • ISBN: 9781603291033 (Paperback)
  • ISBN: 9781603291026 (Cloth)
Approaches to Teaching H.D.s Poetry and Prose Cover

“An impressive volume . . . I am struck by the richness and variety of approaches to teaching H.D.”

—Cynthia Hogue, Arizona State University

The poet Hilda Doolittle (H.D.) came on the literary scene in the 1910s as a young American expatriate living in England. Her early lyric poems, in Sea Garden, helped launch the free verse movement known as imagism. Her work as a whole, spanning five decades, includes long narrative poems, novels, memoirs, and translations. Her experience of the two world wars in Europe is felt throughout her oeuvre, much of which focuses on the power and destructiveness of war. Other recurring topics are ancient models of civilization, comparative mythology, and female deities suppressed in the modern era.

Since the 1970s, H.D.’s poetry and prose have appeared regularly on undergraduate and graduate syllabi, in courses ranging from American or British modernism and gender and sexuality studies to literature of war and classical literature and mythology. Yet her work—complex and densely allusive—can be difficult for students to comprehend and for instructors to teach. This volume aims to assist instructors in helping their students navigate the intricacies of H.D.’s work and overcome some of the frustration of deciphering modern poetry. The first part, “Materials,” presents resources useful to instructors of H.D.’s work, and the second part, “Approaches,” offers specific ways to teach her wide-ranging corpus. Contributors describe courses that teach H.D. in the context of modernism, alongside such writers as Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, and Gertrude Stein. Others follow the themes of myth and religion in her long epic poems Helen in Egypt and Trilogy and her autobiographical work The Gift. H.D.’s analysis with Freud and her subsequent memoir of the experience find their place in a course on critical theory. Many instructors teach H.D. through the lens of sexuality, feminism, or race; others use interdisciplinary approaches that focus on H.D.’s engagement with film.

Jane Augustine
Raffaella Baccolini
Marsha Bryant
Rachel Connor
Mary K. DeShazer
Madelyn Detloff
Mary Ann Eaverly
Susan Stanford Friedman
Elizabeth Hirsh
Donna Krolik Hollenberg
Bret L. Keeling
Charlotte Mandel
James Maynard
Susan McCabe
Adalaide Morris
Cyrena N. Pondrom
Lisa Rado
Mara Scanlon
Helen Sword
Heather H. Thomas
Rebecca Walsh
Lesley Wheeler

Acknowledgments (ix)

Preface (1)

PART ONE: MATERIALS

Courses and Contexts (5)

Editions (8)

Modern Reception History (12)

Other Primary Texts by and about H.D. (14)

Critical and Reference Materials (15)

Multimedia and Internet Resources (16)

Teaching H.D. with Texts by Others (18)

Classroom Assignments (20)

PART TWO: APPROACHES

Introduction: Biographical Contexts (25)

Annette Debo and Lara Vetter

H.D. and Modernism

Companions of the Flame: Teaching H.D. with Other Modern Poets (32)

Mara Scanlon

Mapping Sea Garden (40)

Lesley Wheeler

Portraits of an Artist: Introducing Students to H.D.’s Poetry (49)

Lisa Rado

Ticking Differently: H.D.’s Time in Philadelphia (56)

Adalaide Morris

Myth, Religion, Psychoanalysis

Teaching H.D. and Spirituality (63)

Jane Augustine

God or Goods? Teaching Tribute to Freud in an Undergraduate Course on Critical Theory (70)

Elizabeth Hirsh

Excavating H.D.’s Egypt (77)

Marsha Bryant and Mary Ann Eaverly

Approaches to Teaching Helen in Egypt (84)

Cyrena N. Pondrom

Sexuality, Feminism, Race

Teaching Sex and Sexuality in H.D.: “I Had Two Loves Separate” (92)

Susan McCabe

Teaching H.D.’s Trilogy from Transnational Perspectives (100)

Mary K. DeShazer

Teaching Race in H.D.’s Work (107)

Rebecca Walsh

War and Trauma

H.D. and the British Modernist Tradition: Kora and Ka, Mythopoesis, and England’s Great War (114)

Bret L. Keeling

Teaching H.D.’s Work in a War Literature Course (120)

Raffaella Baccolini

Burnt Offerings or Incendiary Devices? Ambivalence, Trauma, and Cultural Work in The Gift and Trilogy (127)

Madelyn Detloff

Teaching Trilogy: H.D.’s War and Peace (135)

Susan Stanford Friedman

Intertextual and Interdisciplinary Approaches

“She Showed a Way to Penetrate Mystery”: Teaching H.D. and Denise Levertov (142)

Donna Krolik Hollenberg

Robert Duncan’s The H.D. Book (148)

James Maynard

Teaching H.D. in the Creative Writing Classroom (153)

Heather H. Thomas

Projecting H.D.: Film, Criticism, and Visual Culture (160)

Rachel Connor

The Cinematics of H.D.’s Poetry (166)

Charlotte Mandel

Hilda Digital: Teaching H.D. in Cyberspace (172)

Helen Sword

Notes on Contributors (179)

Survey Respondents (183)

Works Cited (185)

Index (203)