Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

English (Literature)

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Chair

Robert Baker

Commitee Members

Casey Charles, Michel Valentin


A Curriculum of the Soul, A Plan for a Curriculum of the Soul, Albert Glover, Charles Olson, Ezra Pound, Hilda Doolittle, modernism, postmodernism, The Cantos, The Maximus Poems, Trilogy


University of Montana


Albert Glover (b. 1942), professor emeritus at St. Lawrence University (Canton, New York), has finished editing / publishing / printing the epic poem, A Curriculum of the Soul (Institute of Further Studies, 2010). The project was started in the late 1960s when Glover and John “Jack” Clarke (1933-1992) elaborated upon a sketch, or “map”, drawn up by late modernist poet Charles Olson, entitled A Plan for a Curriculum of the Soul. Subsequently, Clarke assigned 28 parts from the “plan” to different poets living around the country at the time. It has taken some 40 years and five reassignments for the project to find something of a conclusive end or, perhaps, a new beginning. Prior to drafting his curious “plan” for a soul’s curriculum, Olson (1910-1970) served as rector / writing instructor during the 1950s at Black Mountain College, an experimental arts school where, among others, Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan taught poetry, Josef Albers and Willem de Kooning painting, Anni Albers textile arts, Buckminster Fuller architecture, Merce Cunningham dance and John Cage music composition. The school closed in late 1956, an event that hastened Olson’s return to his New England home environs. Additionally, the closing of Black Mountain College, located outside Asheville, North Carolina, worked to create something of an American artistic diaspora. Situated again in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Olson redoubled his own epic poetic efforts that resulted in the ultimately unfinished Maximus Poems. Olson returned to teaching in the early 1960s when he surfaced at the State University of New York, Buffalo. As serendipity would have it, Glover became a graduate student of Olson’s during this time while Clarke served as a fellow instructor in the university’s English department. While the rest might be “history”, it seems to me that an after-Olson generation / line of American poets are quietly moving out from the diasporatic and cloistered environs they have long inhabited. My work attempts to articulate the notion that A Curriculum of the Soul will serve as something of a fulcrum going forward in the greater landscape that is American epic poetry as established previously by Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound and Hilda Doolittle. Additionally, my thesis moves to foreground and explore certain implications of A Curriculum of the Soul as a collaborative epic text and the greater modern / postmodern epoch conditions which fostered its creation.

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