Module Identifier ENM6220  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Dr Damian Walford Davies  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Other staff Dr Damian Walford Davies  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   5 Hours. Seminar. 5 x 2 hours  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Essay: 1 x 5,000 word essay100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected.100%

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module, students should be able to:

1. demonstrate a detailed knowledge of a range of twentieth-century Anglo-Welsh poems;

2. demonstrate an understanding of the socio-historical contexts of twentieth-century Anglo-Welsh poetry and of the cultural debates surrounding this body of writing;

3. discuss issues of cultural, national, linguistic, class and gender identity on a conceptual level and illustrate how they are dramatised on the level of individual poems;

4. analyse the tensions inherent in Anglo-Welsh poets' negotiations with tradition and evaluate their response to conflict and place;

5. synthesise textual detail and theoretical awareness in an extended piece of critical writing.


Brief description


Session 1: `Being Anglo-anything is really tough' (John Davies, `How to Write Anglo-Welsh Poetry'); or, The Anglo-Welsh Ideology

Debates about the characteristics and preoccupations of Anglo-Welsh poetry have been a defining feature of the prefaces and introductions to anthologies. Is Anglo-Welsh poetry a historically-specific cultural (political?) phenomenon that should now, in a modern, culturally-diverse and `plural' Wales, be consigned to the realms of literary history? Is the label `post-colonial' relevant?   

This session will focus on the agendas of Anglo-Welsh anthologies and on their construction of national, political, cultural and gender identities. Examples of polemical and autobiographical writing will also be considered.

Session 2: Wales Writing War

This session will focus on responses to the First and Second World Wars in Anglo-Welsh poetry. These reactions will be located in the broader historical and cultural context of Welsh `conflict writing' (taking in a resonant 6th-century skirmish and the Falklands War).

We will be looking at David Jones's Modernist epic of the Great War, In Parenthesis (1937), alongside poems by Wilfred Owen (which will serve as an instructive comparison) and Paul Fussell's famously provocative critique of Jones's poem. The second half of the session will consider the Second World War writing of Alun Lewis as `Welsh-Indian existential pastoral', together with the civilian response of Dylan Thomas.

Session 3: Anglo-Welsh Elegies

The material for this session has obvious (if often complex) affinities with the material considered in Session 2 on War. The 20th-century Anglo-Welsh elegy is heir to a long and distinguished tradition of Welsh strict-metre elegies, and the modern Anglo-Welsh elegy bears an interesting relation to this tradition. Two recent essays on the function and strategies of elegiac writing will provide a theoretical/ conceptual frame for a consideration of the (cultural-)politics of the elegy. Is the Anglo-Welsh elegy private enunciation or public ceremonial? How does the elegy negotiate gender and class/ cultural difference? In what ways can an elegy resist the elegiac and become an `anti-elegy'?

Authors whose work we will be discussing include: Alun Lewis, Dylan Thomas, Leslie Norris, Dannie Abse, R.S. Thomas, Emyr Humphreys, T. Harri Jones, John Ormond, Tony Conran, Gillian Clarke, Douglas Houston, and Christine Evans.

Session 4: Welsh Women Poets

In this session we will focus on poetry written by women that dramatises issues of gender and cultural identity. Central here are the following issues: Are gender and nation in conflict in these poems? If so, how have Welsh women writers negotiated the competing claims of gender and cultural identity? Is that conflict ultimately resolved? Do these writers find themselves in a troubling (or enabling?) double-bind? What values does the past/ `tradition? hold for these writers?   

We will be discussing the work of Lynette Roberts, Hilary Llewellyn-Williams, Jean Earle, Gillian Clarke, and Elin ap Hywel.

Session 5: Poetry of Place

`Where does it begin, this sense of home ?/ territory, merely; space round a grave;/ a people sharing concerns, the same tongue?' (Christine Evans, `Island of Dark Horses'). To which landscapes does 20th-century Anglo-Welsh poetry respond? What constitutes `Poetry of Place'? How does a sense of geographical and cultural rootedness inform these poets' negotiations with landscape? How is landscape politicised by these poets? What are the links between these poems and the elegies already considered?   

We will be discussing poems by the following: Idris Davies, Alun Lewis, Glyn Jones, R.S. Thomas, Dylan Thomas, Roland Mathias, Harri Webb, Ruth Bidgood, T. Harri Jones, John Ormond, Harry Guest, Leslie Norris, Jon Dressel, John Davies, and Christine Evans.

Reading Lists

** Should Be Purchased
Dannie Abse (ed.) (1997) Twentieth-Century Anglo-Welsh Poetry Seren


This module is at CQFW Level 7