ENGL 125: Introduction to Poetry
- Overview and Goals
- Course Materials
- Assignments and Exams
- Academic Policies
- Course Outline
Nearly everyone loves some form of poetry—in a popular song, a sentimental poem found on a greeting card, a patriotic hymn, or a beautifully worded epitaph on a gravestone. It is unlike any other artistic form, and each poem conveys a message that cannot be transmitted any other way. In this class, we are going to explore how poetry creates that meaning.
English 125 is most importantly a class about learning how to read, hear, and enjoy poetry. To that end, we will spend most of our time on shorter, lyric poems. We will probably look at some corollary materials, such as illustrations and historical information, but will mostly focus on finding our way through lines of poetry.
I have four main goals for you as you take this course:
- that you hear poetry when you read it
- that you pay attention to all the meaningful details of a poem
- that you can discuss poetry critically and in a manner suited to a broader audience
- that you gain some historical perspective of English and American poetry, especially within literary history.
See course description for current materials.
This course does not carry a heavy reading load because I want you to read the assigned poems aloud. I have also included as many recordings as I could find. In general, we will move chronologically, because I think it helps to see how the forms of poetry change with time. We will always want to be looking for the connections among the historical periods and the forms. For example, we will read a lot of sonnets, and you will be able to read a Christina Rossetti poem and look back to Shakespeare or Donne to see how Rossetti alters the form to express her own content.
Words or phrases marked in bold are usually terms that need to be looked up. Things that are italicized are either for emphasis or to remind you of a term you should know (and maybe review).
There will be a midterm and final exam. Both exams will likely include long-answer identification passages, terms, essays, and an explication. Both exams will be sent to you via e-mail and returned to me at a designated time. See the course schedule for exact dates. The exams are open book and open course website, but I still encourage you to study for them as though you were taking them in the classroom. The exams are timed, and there isn’t enough time to look up everything you didn’t study before the exam.
You will write six papers. Five are short papers (two pages) on various elements of poetic form. The final paper will be four to five pages long and will be an explication. I strongly encourage you to send me drafts of your papers. We don’t have the opportunity to meet in an office or at a coffee shop, so use this chance to collaborate with me on your work. Your work will improve, and so will your grade! I will read as many drafts as I can, so get yours in first.
You must post at least once for each topic. The posts are due on the first day of discussion for each topic; the following day is reserved for further clarification, comments, and elaboration from me and from your classmates.
Guidelines for Discussion Forum Posts: The discussion forum is our virtual classroom. This is where we interact, test out ideas, and have those ideas evaluated. It is the only way we have to know each other and get comfortable with each other. I hope that we will develop a sense of coherence and community as a class, even though we are online. Please do think through your posts, and don't write off the top of your head. Also speak plainly and directly, rather than trying to sound a certain way. Be willing, however, to risk an idea that you think might be “off” or even wrong. By accepting occasional skepticism, you open yourself up more to your classmates and to me, and you create a valuable learning experience for everyone. Please be thoughtful and respectful of others' ideas and questions so that we can maintain trusting and open discussions.
Moreover, the forum makes up nearly twenty percent of your grade, so your posts must be substantial. Your posts and subsequent discussion are necessary for learning the course material: not everything is included in the Lessons. Therefore, at the beginning of the semester, I will offer constructive criticism about what constitutes a good post. I won’t continue to comment on your posts, but I will be assessing them to determine your discussion forum grade at the end of the term. The forum can make a dramatic difference in your grade.
Your electronic reading journal is a way of keeping up with some of the more nitty-gritty elements of reading_looking up words, making notes about rhyme schemes, paraphrasing difficult lines, and so on. It is a little bit like homework and a little bit like a quiz. You will turn in your reading journal responses every Friday by midnight. They will be graded simply with a check, a check minus, or a check plus, depending on the quality of your work. A check means that everything is complete and fine. A check plus means you have done something extra, and a check minus means, obviously, that you haven_t put enough into your work. You may receive a zero if you turn in overly brief or perfunctory responses.
Please read the Reading Journal Guidelines.
There will be four worksheets on the elements of poetry known as “prosody.” The worksheets correspond to Papers 2 through 5, which concern rhyme, meter, imagery, and syntax. The worksheets are worth ten (10) points each and will be due about a week before the paper is due. They will help you prepare for writing the papers.
You will be expected to know the material on the worksheets for the exams.
Your final grade will be itemized thus, for a total of 1,000 points:
|Five short papers (50 points each)||250|
|Worksheets on prosody (10 points each)||40|
|Discussion forum participation||180|
By enrolling as a student in this course, you agree to abide by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill policies related to the acceptable use of online resources. Please consult the Acceptable Use Policy on topics such as copyright, net-etiquette, and privacy protection.
As part of this course, you may be asked to participate in online discussions or other online activities that may include personal information about you or other students in the course. Please be respectful of the rights and protection of other participants under the UNC-Chapel Hill Information Security Policies when participating in online classes.
When using online resources offered by organizations not affiliated with UNC-Chapel Hill, such as Google or YouTube, please note that the terms and conditions of these companies and not the University’s Terms and Conditions apply. These third parties may offer different degrees of privacy protection and access rights to online content. You should be well aware of this when posting content to sites not managed by UNC-Chapel Hill.
When links to sites outside of the unc.edu domain are inserted in class discussions, please be mindful that clicking on sites not affiliated with UNC-Chapel Hill may pose a risk for your computer due to the possible presence of malware on such sites.
Remember that as a student of UNC-Chapel Hill, you are bound by the University’s Honor Code, which states that “It shall be the responsibility of every student at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to obey and support the enforcement of the Honor Code, which prohibits lying, cheating, or stealing when these actions involve academic processes or University students or academic personnel acting in an official capacity.”
All graded academic work must include a pledge comprised of the following: “No unauthorized assistance has been received or given in the completion of this work.”
An especially serious Honor Code violation is plagiarism. If you are uncertain about what constitutes plagiarism, contact me and/or familiarize yourself with this plagiarism tutorial, courtesy of UNC Libraries.
- Lesson 1: Introduction
- Lesson 2: The Sonnet in England
- Lesson 3: Metaphysical Poetry
- Lesson 4: From the Renaissance to the Romantic
- Lesson 5: Other Forms of Romantic Poetry
- Lesson 6: The Victorian Imagination
- Lesson 7: The Century’s Pulse
- Lesson 8: Approaching Modernism
- Lesson 9: Modernist Form
- Lesson 10: The Formal Return
- Lesson 11: Living Voices, Living Forms