Course Instructor Days Times Room


What compels someone to write a poem, to organize one's thoughts into verse? What is the relationship between a poem and the various material forms it takes? What makes a text a poem, an epic, sonnet, sonnet sequence, sestina, villanelle, a concrete poem? How do writers use poems to comment on society and culture? What power does a poem have that prose does not possess? This course examines poetry written in English in all its forms, through a variety of historical periods, paying particular attention to the relationship poetry has to its tangible, material shape (faded brown pen ink on rag paper, sticky printer's ink fibre paper, gold and lapis on vellum, cut strips of paper, embroidery on sampler, etc).  Although the syllabus is organized chronologically, you will soon discover that many historical periods like to challenge the rules of traditional forms and invent new ones.  Over the semester, we will read our way through the Norton Anthology of Poetry, learning not only to understand poetic style, form, elements and diction, but how to interpret a poem, to imagine the impetus behind it, to connect it to its cultural milieu, and to think of it three dimensionally, as an object. Our assignments emphasize the inter-connectedness of reading, writing, and thinking.