Alex E. Blazer Course Site Assignments Description
Materials Assignments Policies Schedule


"the poet like an acrobat . . ."

English 260C (08063-3): Introduction to Poetry

Autumn 2001, M/W: 3:30 - 5:18 PM, Denney Hall 308


Instructor: Alex E. Blazer Office: 525 Denney Hall
Mailbox: 421 Denney Hall Office Hours: M/W: 2:30-3:18
Email: Office Phone: 292-3754
Web: Departmental Phone: 292-6065


Course Description

For we are language         Lost 

in language

—Susan Howe


When one first reads poetry, it is easy to get lost in its language: it's condensed, abstract, and difficult as compared to the conventional and everyday prose style we're used to reading.  This introduction to poetry course will help you become active and analytical readers of poetry—and by extension literature in general.  First, we'll read a variety of poetry in order to obtain a broad sense of the elements and forms of poetry.  Then, we'll focus on selected major poets from a variety of time periods in order to appreciate their diverse yet individual world views.  Finally, we'll read an individual book of poetry in order to learn how poems complement one another and function together in a greater whole.  To help us in our endeavors, we'll use the web to research critical responses to poetry in print and on the web.  We'll also research poetry groups and movements and share our findings with the class in a multimedia annotated bibliography presentation.  Individually, we'll keep a reading journal, submit close readings of particular poems to the course listservice as well as read those poems aloud for the class, compose a final paper that interprets a book of poetry or group of poems of our own individual choice, and write an essay examination designed to coalesce what we've learned about reading and appreciating poetry.  Class discussion will prove a vital learning tool throughout the reading of and writing through our varied set of poems and poets.  Although this constitutes a lot to cover in one quarter-long course, our primary goal is achievable: to become better and more attentive readers in order that we may walk the tightrope of language and experience that is poetry.


Course Materials


required (available at SBX)

Meyer, Michael: Poetry: An Introduction, 3rd ed.

Kinnell, Galway: The Book of Nightmares

selected poems available in course packet (password protected)


Assignments and Grade Distribution


two listserve responses (email, 250 words minimum), 10%

To prepare yourself and the rest of the class for class discussion, at two points in the quarter you'll submit listserve responses to individual poems prior to the day they're discussed.  Sign up for two slots, then pick one of the poems from the selected poet of the day (not a poem from the Meyer chapter) to react to, tentatively interpret, and broach issues for class discussion.  These papers are informal, thus need not be polished; however, they should be fully engaged with the ideas and themes of the individual poem; in other words, do a close reading of the poem.  You will also be responsible for reading aloud the poem you've chosen in class as well as starting our discussion of the with your response questions.  Please submit your response to the course listservice, <>, by 3:30 PM the Saturday or Monday before the reading will be discussed in class.  Because we have differing operating systems and software, please refrain from sending attachments.  Due to the strictly enforced late assignment policy (see below), I suggest emailing the responses well in advance of the deadline in order that you can make sure they are posted on time.

a reading journal, 25%

To facilitate active reading, you'll keep a journal that records your critical thoughts regarding the assigned poems.  Though not formal, these typed entries should at once explore and analyze the poems that you find most engaging as well as develop your feelings toward and evaluation of the poems we're reading in the course.  Spend equal amounts of effort doing close readings of individual poems and constructing a sense of individual poet's worldviews.  I also suggest focusing on the elements of poetry as we discuss them in class.  You may also devote an entry to the poet or book of poetry you write your final paper on.  By the end of the quarter you should have 15 entries (one for each poet we read plus one outside poet) of approximately 250 words each.

a group presentation/annotated bibliography, 10%

To broaden our understanding of the sociohistorical aspect of poetry, groups of three or four will present an annotated bibliography focusing on how a particular poet fits into a poetry movement (poets and movements to be determined by Week 4).  The group will use the web to find critical materials in print and online.  It will evaluate the most significant and useful 20 sources in a web-based annotated bibliography, and then summarize the overall findings in a multimedia enhanced oral presentation. Sign Up and Prompt.

a final paper (2000 words minimum), 30%

To apply the active and close reading abilities honed in the listserv responses and reading journal, you will compose a final paper that analyzes how poems work together to create an overarching theme in either a book of poetry or a group of poems above and beyond what we've read in class.  More instructions here: Final Paper Prompt.

a final exam, 25%

To apply your reading abilities and knowledge of the elements of poetry, you'll write a cumulative essay exam that discusses poems and poets already discussed in class as well as compels you to analyze one or two new poems. More information here: Exam Review.


Course Policies


Class Participation

We're going to be working with poetry, the most condensed and difficult form of literature.  Consequently, we'll all benefit from sharing our questions and ideas.  The listserv is the first step but only a first step; let's continue those discussions in class.


There will be a one-letter final grade deduction per day for all unexcused absences beyond two.  Arriving to class more than 15 minutes late or leaving more than 15 minutes early constitutes an absence.  Athletic competition, jury duty, illness, and so forth will be excused provided that you bring an official note within one week of your return to class.

Late Assignments

There will be a one-letter grade deduction per day (not class period) for any assignment that is turned in late, unless you have an excused absence.


Plagiarism is the representation of another's works or ideas as one's own.  It includes the unacknowledged word for word use and/or paraphrasing of another person's work, and/or the inappropriate unacknowledged use of another person's ideas.  All cases of suspected plagiarism, in accordance with university rules, will be reported to the Committee on Academic Misconduct.

Office of Disability Services

If you have any specific needs or concerns, please feel free to discuss the issue with me during office hours.  Students with disabilities who need accommodations should be registered at the Office for Disability Services (292-3307).

Writing Center

If you have difficulty writing analytical and argumentative papers, the staff of the Writing Center serve as readers and responders to writing for English 110, English 367 and other university disciplines.  Besides giving feedback, these English graduate students can help with other writing issues such as topic development, organization, coherence, clarity, and self-editing.  To make an appointment, call 292-5607 or stop by 485 Mendenhall Labs.

Student Work

On the Monday after finals week, I will have your final papers ready for you to pick up.  Make arrangements with me to retrieve your work, or I will discard it after two quarters.


Course Schedule

This schedule is subject to change, so listen in class and check online for possible revisions.

Week 1


Introductions, Syllabus

First Day Poems: Ferlinghetti, MacLeish, and Stevens in course packet

Week 2

Meyer, Chs 1-2 "Reading Poetry" and "Writing about Poetry" (1-52)

Shakespeare in Meyer (228-9, 435-6, 635-6)

Website: Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet

Poetry on the Web: Online Resources


Meyer, Ch 3 "Word Choice, Word Order, and Tone" (53-88)

Shelley in Meyer (243-5, 636-7) and course packet

Website: Unacknowledged Legislators

Research and the Web I: The Print Source Search

Online Research at OSU (CCL)

Poetry Treasure Hunt

Web-based Literary Databases Treasure Hunt Worksheet (CCL)

Week 3

Meyer, Ch 4 "Images" (89-113)

Keats in Meyer (79-80, 109-10, 196-8, 226, 618-9) and course packet

Website: John Keats, Romantic Poet

Research and the Web II: The Web Source Search

Introduction to Search Terms and Wildcards (CCL)

Search Engines (CCL)


Meyer, Ch 5 "Figures of Speech" (114-137)

Browning in Meyer (164-5, 596-8) and course packet

Website: The Browning Pages

Research and the Web III: Evaluating Print and Web Sources

Web Research: Evaluating & Documenting Online Sources (CCL)

Week 4

Meyer, Ch 6 "Symbol, Allegory, and Irony" (138-169)

Dickinson in Meyer: Ch12 "Emily Dickinson: A Body of Work" (285-332)

Website: Emily Dickinson (The Academy of American Poets)

Research and the Web IV: Comparing Print and Web Sources


Meyer, Ch 7 "Sounds" (170-200)

Frost in Meyer: Ch13 "Robert Frost: A Life and Work" (333-69)

Website: Robert Frost (The Academy of American Poets)

Reading Journals due (tentative grade)

Week 5

Meyer, Ch 8 "Patterns of Rhythm" (201-222)

Hughes in Meyer: Ch14 "Langston Hughes: Culture and Work" (370-403)

Website: Teacher Resource File - Langston Hughes

Meyer, Ch 9 "Poetic Forms" (223-250)

Eliot in Meyer, Ch15 "Critical Case Study: T. S. Eliot's 'The Love Song

of J. Alfred Prufrock'" (404-19) and course packet

Website: The T. S. Eliot Hypertext Project

Composing an Annotated Bibliography I: Reading a Critical Article

Annotated Bibliography Assignment

Week 6

Meyer, Chs 10-11 "Open Forms" and "Combining Elements of Poetry" (251-284)

Stein in course packet

Website: Gertrude Stein Online

Composing an Annotated Bibliography II: Writing the Annotation

Williams in Meyer (90, 257, 645-6) and course packet

Website: William Carlos Williams (Modern American Poetry Site)

Composing a Web Page I: Netscape Composer

Creating a Personal Web Page: A Step-By-Step Walkthrough (CCL)

Building Websites with Netscape Composer (CCL)

Week 7

Ferlinghetti in course packet

Website: Lawrence Ferlinghetti at the Blue Neon Alley

Lab Time for Annotated Bibliography Group Presentations

Plath in Meyer (126, 187, 630-1) and course packet

Plath website: Sylvia Plath: "A celebration, this is"

Constructing Audiovisual Presentations: Microsoft Powerpoint

PowerPoint 98/99 (Mac and PC) (CCL)

Week 8

Watten in course packet

Website: Barrett Watten Homepage

Final Paper Prompt

Lab Time for Annotated Bibliography Group Presentations

Kinnell, The Book of Nightmares

Website: Galway Kinnell (The Academy of American Poets)

Lab Time for Annotated Bibliography Group Presentations

Week 9
No Class: Veteran's Day observed
Kinnell, The Book of Nightmares continued

Lab Time for Annotated Bibliography Group Presentations

Week 10
Annotated Bibliography Group Presentations: Blake, Cullen, Kerouac

Annoted Bibliographies due

Reading Journals due (final grade)

No Class: Thanksgiving observed
Week 11
Annotated Bibliography Group Presentations: Sexton, Andrews

***meet in Derby 80

Conclusions, Evaluations

Final Exam Review

Student Poetry Reading / Pizza Party

Final Paper due

Final Exam: 3:30-5:18