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Spring 2016 Undergraduate English Courses: Special Topics

358:241 Introduction to Poetry

01  TTH7  CAC  17360  SHOCKLEY  SC-104

If you have always enjoyed poems, and want to expand your range—and pick up some new favorite poets and works along the way—this is the course for you.  If you’ve always found poetry mysterious and confusing, and suspect that all the people reading and writing and slamming and rapping and reciting must know something you don’t, this course is for you.  If you like writing poetry, and have begun to realize that, in order to grow as a poet, you need to learn more about the tradition, past and present, this course is for you.  If you’ve always wondered, “Just what is poetry?,” this is the course for you. We will read (and listen to and watch) poems from a wide spectrum of times and places, on a variety of subjects.  Poetry works (and plays!) with sound (music) and sight (visual art) and borrows language from every context you can imagine, and we will follow where it leads us.  We’ll look for the structures that hold poems together; eavesdrop on the conversations poets are having with other poets, past and present; and peel back the surface layer of poems to see what’s inside them. In the process, we’ll learn something about how a poem is made, what motivates people to make art with words, and why mystery—and humor, resistance, beauty, sorrow, intelligence, and pleasure—still draw us to poems after hundreds and thousands of years.

Course participants will read and listen to a number of poems; attend class regularly; complete exercises that build your poetry “muscles”; write short papers that respond to poems and employ new vocabularies; memorize and recite a poem; and show off their knowledge on a final exam.