Graduate Course Description

350:505 - How to Read a Poem

Course No: 350:505
Index # 14994
Distribution Requirement: A5, B
Time: Monday - 3:50 p.m.
Location: MU 207

How to Read a Poem

Kristin Grogan

What is unique about reading poetry, and what methods can we bring to it? What is the value of reading poems today? Appropriate for students from all periods, students who have studied poetry in detail before and students who have read very little poetry, this course offers the knowledge and skills to read, enjoy, teach, and write about poetry. We will immerse ourselves in the formal elements of reading poetry. Students will gain a grounding in meter and rhythm, sound patterning, rhyme, voice, and both received poetic forms and radical, rule-breaking experimental writing. Confident in our knowledge of poetics, we will then think historically, with seminars on the cultures of print, media, distribution, and canon formation; and we will think politically, with sessions on form and politics; identity, collectivity, and the lyric speaker; and poetry, protest, and social justice.

This course is taught by multiple faculty members with diverse areas of expertise across periods. Expect to roam widely in literary history, from John Donne to Jos Charles, Tennyson to Terrance Hayes, from ghazals and haibun to concrete poems and internet poetry, dramatic monologues to contemporary spoken word. Students who have never studied poetry in depth should expect to walk away with the tools they need to read, teach, and write about poetry; students who have already studied some poetry or intend to focus on poetry will have their knowledge and skills revived and enriched.

Assessment will include participation in class discussion and regular short, informal writing exercises throughout the course. We will conclude the semester with an all-class conference, when students will present a conference-length paper and gain feedback from their colleagues for revision and final submission.