HUMS 215, The Poetry of Vision: East and West

Meeting Time: 
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

Course Description: 

Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of 1755 provides four definitions of the word vision: (1) sight; the faculty of seeing, (2) the act of seeing, (3) a supernatural appearance; a spectre; a phantom, (4) a dream; something in a dream. A dream happens to a sleeping man, a vision may happen to a waking man. A dream is supposed natural, a vision miraculous; but they are confounded. This course explores poetry that deals with any or all of these definitions, across a wide range of cultural and historical contexts, from the visionary, astral journeys of ancient Chinese verse to the visionary, redemptive apocalypse of William Blake, from the fleeting beauty in Japanese haiku to the high Sublime of American shore odes, from the psychedelic sermons of Buddhist scripture to the dream images of Geoffrey Chaucer, from the divine, cosmic manifestation in the Bhagavad Gita to the non-linear, multilayered poetics of Stéphane Mallarmé, from the spiritual and erotic yearnings of Rumi to the romantic and poetic longings of Hart Crane.

Led by:

Riley Soles's picture

Professor Riley Soles

Riley Parker Soles, who received a Ph.D. in East Asian languages and literature from Yale in 2018,  works comparatively at the intersection of literature, religion, and philosophy, with particular interests in hermeneutics, textual ontology, and the event/act/experience of reading. He returns to the ISM for a second year to continue work on his book project, The Ecstasy of the Text, which investigates the ways in which texts from both Western and East Asian literary and religious traditions express and enact a self-reflexive awareness of their own ontological status as texts and attempt to subvert the limitations of their materiality.