Teaching Wallace Stevens: Practical Essays

Wallace Stevens is not only one of the most important twentieth-century American poets, but also one of the most difficult to teach. The inaccessibility of his work, even for practiced readers, is legendary among teachers and students alike, who have struggled for decades with his work's resistance to conventional teaching methods. Moreover, the solutions to Stevens's difficulty to be found in fifty years of accumulated commentary are not always enough in the classroom.In an attempt to address the specific problems of presenting Stevens to students, John N. Serio and B. J. Leggett have brought together twenty-four original essays, by an impressive array of Stevens scholars, to explore a variety of approaches. The complexity of his poetry, it's shifting theoretical perspectives, and various other obstacles constitute the major themes of these essays as they deal with strategies, comparative approaches, prosody, rhetoric, diction, and larger contexts such as modernism, postmodernism, and contemporary theory.These essays offer practical, down-to-earth knowledge about Stevens's poetry; specific, time-tested techniques for successfully introducing students to Stevens; and an extensive introductory guide to primary and secondary sources. Besides examining the challenges of teaching Stevens, this volume demonstrates what Stevens can teach us about the kind of reading that goes on in the classroom.