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Unit information: Approaches to Poetry in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Approaches to Poetry
Unit code ENGL10039
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Wootten
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This course will introduce students to the rich diversity of poetry in English, and equip them with the skills and knowledge to better understand, and better enjoy that poetry. The poetry studied will range throughout the history of English Literature, and tutorial work will generally focus on the close reading of poetic texts. Weekly lectures and tutorials will study matters including: rhyme and metre; poetic imagery; a number of poetic forms such as the sonnet; a number of poetic genres such as epic or pastoral. There will also be space for students to look at poetry in aesthetic, political or historical context, to read poetry in the light of questions of individual identity such as race, nation, gender or sexuality, and to consider poetry from diverse authorships.

Students will practice their close reading skills in small groups, and will work together on a group presentation.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit a successful student will be able to:

  1. Recognise and show some familiarity with a wide variety of poetry written in English;
  2. Identify and analyse the technical or formal characteristics of poetry from a range of genres and historical periods;
  3. Demonstrate the significance of the presence of such characteristics, using appropriate technical vocabulary, and how they affect a poem’s meaning;
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of some of the major movements and changes in the literary history of English poetry;
  5. Construct a reasoned argument about a poet(s) or poem(s) supported by appropriate use of evidence and analysis, and close attention to form and technique;
  6. Show initiative when responding to unseen poems in an examination as well as when analysing familiar poems in coursework.

Teaching Information

2 x one-hour lectures and 1 x one-hour tutorial weekly.

Assessment Information

  • One commentary of 1500 words (33%) [ILOs 1, 2, 4]
  • One 2.5 hour exam [2 questions] (67 %) [ILOs 1-4]

Reading and References

Michael D. Hurley and Michael O'Neill, Poetic Form: An Introduction (OUP, 2012)

John Lennard, The Poetry Handbook: A Guide to Reading Poetry for Pleasure and Practical Criticism (OUP, 2006)

The Norton Anthology of English Literature, gen. ed. Stephen Greenblatt, 9th edn (W. W. Norton, 2012)