ENGLISH 340 - Studies in Poetry
Fall 2018, Section 002 - 20th Century American Poetic Cultures
Instruction Mode: Section 002 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


The aim of this poetic methods course is to increase your literacy and pleasure in reading a variety of texts that fall under the rubric of “poetry.” Students learn to think critically and historically about changes over time to the idea of what counts as poetry, and to how it is read, and learn to work with (and sometimes against!) the concepts of poetic kinds (lyric, dramatic, narrative); genres (such as sonnets, ballads, dramatic monologues, odes, and elegies); rhetorical figures (figures of speech and sound); and the “verse cultures” that, in given moments, define what counts as poetry and how best to read it. We start by historicizing our own poetic culture (the academic classroom), which, since the 1940s, has tended to emphasize the close reading of formal patterns (of sound, words, syntax, diction, rhythm, meter and so on) in the interpretation of poems. Reading critical theory, and poems primarily produced in the U.S. in the 20th century (but now and again ranging across several centuries and traditions), we’ll hone our knowledge and use of some of the techniques of formal analysis in current use in most academic readings of poetry. And we’ll also read texts explaining several other methodologies we may use to read, understand, and classify poetic texts, such as new historicist, cultural studies, and deconstructive.

In short units over the course of the term, students work with various interpretive methods in reading the poems they best, and least, serve, with a heavy emphasis on American imagist, modernist, and Harlem Renaissance poems from the early 20th century; some mid-century American “confessional” poetry; and more recent experimental verse that attempts to move away from the human “voice” and expression.

Students buy a Norton Anthology of Poetry and print copies of Canvas materials.

Course Requirements:

Students are required to attend and participate in this discussion and mini-lecture format. Students write (for credit) weekly analytic questions for class discussion; a close reading paper of 4-5 pages; a deconstructive paper of approximately 8 pages; and a take-home final exam essay that will allow them to reflect on all they have learned over the course of the semester.


ENGLISH 340 - Studies in Poetry
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
9/4/18 - 12/11/18
002 (SEM)
 In Person
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
9/4/18 - 12/11/18

Textbooks/Other Materials

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