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Unit information: Approaches to Poetry in 2020/21

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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

Teaching will involve asynchronous and synchronous elements, including long- and short-form lectures, group discussion, research and writing activities, and peer dialogue. Students are expected to engage with the reading and participate fully with the weekly tasks and topics. Learning will be further supported through the opportunity for individual consultation.

Assessment Information

  • 1 x 1000 word commentary (formative) [ILOs 1-4]
  • 1 x timed assessment (100%) [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)