English 91F Syllabus, Spring 1996
Literature and Composition: Introduction to Poetry

Meets in Vaughan Literature Building 101
MWF 10:00 - 10:52

John Rickard
Office: Vaughan Lit. 209C

Office Phone: 524-1424

e-mail: rickard@bucknell.edu

WWW homepage: http://www.bucknell.edu/~rickard



Please try to obtain the editions listed below, so that we can all work with the same texts and pagination. If you have a problem obtaining any of these texts, please let me know.



This is a provisional syllabus; changes will be discussed and announced in class. We may decide we need to spend more time on some things and less on others, and I want our course this semester to be flexible in responding to our changing needs and interests. We may get rid of some poems as we go along, based on what you enjoy or decide you want to explore, and certainly I will think of poems I want to bring in as we move along. Therefore, we should regard this first syllabus as more of a suggestion than a final document.


You are responsible for learning of and responding to syllabus changes during the semester. I will expect you to have the works read by the first day they are listed on the syllabus. Copies of the syllabus, revisions to the syllabus, and other relevant materials related to EN91 can be found on my WWW homepage (address above).


Wednesday, 24 January--Business matters; What is Poetry?


Friday, 26 January--Poems About Poetry



Monday. 29 January--Poems About Poetry


Wednesday, 31 January--Computer Workshop--Multimedia Lab, Bertrand Library


Friday, 2 February--Computer Workshop--Multimedia Lab, Bertrand Library


Monday, 5 February--Poetic Form



Wednesday, 7 February--Love Poetry


Friday, 9 February--Love Poetry



Monday, 12 February--Love Poetry



Wednesday, 14 February--Love Poetry


Friday, 16 February--Love Poetry


Monday, 19 February--Poems of Death and Mourning



Wednesday, 21 February--Poems of Death and Mourning


Friday, 23 February--Poems of Death and Mourning



Monday, 26 February--Poems of Death and Mourning



Wednesday, 28 February--Poems of Death and Mourning


Friday, 1 March--Religious Poetry


Monday, 4 March--Religious Poetry



Wednesday, 6 March--Religious Poetry



Friday, 8 March--Religious Poetry



Monday, 11 March--War Poetry



Wednesday, 13 March--War Poetry



Friday, 15 March--War Poetry


  Monday, 25 March--Narrative Poetry


Wednesday, 27 March--Narrative Poetry


Friday, 29 March--Narrative Poetry


Monday, 1 April--Case Study--William Blake


Wednesday, 3 April--Case Study--William Blake


Friday, 5 April--Case Study--William Blake Monday, 8 April--Case Study--Emily Dickinson


Wednesday, 10 April--Case Study--Emily Dickinson


Friday, 12 April-- Case Study--Emily Dickinson


Monday, 15 April--Case Study--T. S. Eliot


Wednesday, 17 April--Case Study--T. S. Eliot



Friday, 19 April--Selected Modern Poets


Monday, 22 April--Selected Modern Poets


Wednesday, 24 April--Selected Modern Poets


Friday, 26 April--Selected Modern Poets



Monday, 29 April--Selected Modern Poets


Wednesday, 1 May--Selected Contemporary Poems


Friday, 3 May--Paper 3 Rough Draft Workshop


Monday, 6 May--Selected Contemporary Poems




Poetry has been defined as "organized violence committed upon everyday speech." This class will try to understand poetry as a special kind of speech and writing, working with examples of poetry drawn from a variety of historical periods and cultures. We will explore the various uses and shapes of poetry, poetic form and meter, the generic expectations various forms raise, and the ways writers conform to and violate those expectations. We will survey the boundary lines between song and poetry, as well as new resources for poetry on the World Wide Web. Although this is not a creative writing class, students will have opportunities to write poems. In our reading, discussion, and writing we will strive to develop the vocabulary and skills connected with the analysis of literary texts.


English 91 will provide you with lots and lots of poems to read, from early epics, sacred songs, and riddles to recent poetry and lyrics. The class will cover many well-known, traditional poets and poems as well as more contemporary and lesser-known writers. We will attend to questions of translation, form, literary history, and cultural differences. We will work on developing reading, writing, and critical thinking skills through discussion, papers, exams, and in-class writings.


Although at times I will lecture in order to present background information, I do expect enthusiastic class participation in discussion and in other in-class activities. I expect you to keep up with the reading and to prepare for class. Class attendance in a literature class is essential for a good grade; therefore, I expect you to attend class regularly, to be prepared for class, and to participate when you are here. Excessive absences (or tardiness) will hurt your grade in English 91--after three absences your participation grade will begin to drop. More than four absences will mean that you must take a make-up final exam (see below).




Papers: (1 and 2) two shorter essays, the first a brief explication of a poem of your choice (see Meyer, pp. 18-24), and the second an analysis focusing on your own intrepretation of a critical problem, a crucial passage, or a comparison of elements from one or more poems (approximately 5-7 pages); (3) a poetry project, which will require you to memorize and recite a poem in class; you will follow your recitation with a brief oral report, in which you will explicate the poem, discussing scansion and giving a close reading of and reaction to the poem. Following your report, you must turn in a short (3-5 page) paper that includes a scanned copy of the poem and a detailed summary of your explication; and (4) a research paper (approx. 10 pages), incorporating researched sources to support an argument about one or more of the works we've read.


Final Exam: There will be a final examination, given only to those who miss more than four classes; this examination is mandatory for those with more than four absences and will serve only as a compensation for missed classes--it will not help your final grade.




An important part of my job is making sure that you know how to use sources carefully and correctly in academic writing and that you understand the University's policies concerning plagiarism, which I define as the unacknowledged use, either intentional or unintentional, of material first expressed by another person. We'll discuss proper methods of documentation during the semester, but if, at any time, you have questions about plagiarism problems in this or any other class, please come and ask me about them.