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


"only one man—like a city"

English 260C (08198-8): Introduction to Poetry

Autumn 2002, TR 11:30-1:18 PM, Denney Hall 343

Instructor: Alex E. Blazer Office: Denney Hall 324
Mailbox: Denney Hall 421 Office Hours: TR 10:30-11:18AM
Email: Office Phone: 292-3754
Web: Departmental Phone: 292-6065


Course Description

The language, the language

              fails them

They do not know the words

            or have not

the courage to use them   .

William Carlos Williams


When one first reads poetry, it is easy to get lost in its language. Compared to the conventional and everyday prose style we're used to reading, poetry is condensed, abstract, and difficult. Reading poetry requires associational and rigorous acts of mind. 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 develop the act of mind that suffices to experience poetry.


Course Materials



Meyer, Michael: Poetry: An Introduction, 3rd ed. (available at SBX)

Williams, William Carlos: Paterson (available at SBX)

course packet (available online)

handouts and resources linked from the course website (


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. 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. More instructions and sign up here: Listserv Response Sign-Up.

a reading journal, 25%

To facilitate active reading, you'll keep a journal that records your critical thoughts regarding the assigned poems. I'll post prompts on the course website here to get you going. More instructions here: Reading Journal Study Questions.

a midterm 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 assigned in class as well as analyzes one or two new poems. More information here: Exam Review.

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. 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. More instructions and sign up here: Group Project 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.


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 class period 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, 150 Pomerene Hall, 1760 Neil Ave; 292-3307 (voice) and 292-0901 (TTY).

Writing Center

If you have difficulty writing analytical and argumentative papers, The Writing Center, 475 Mendenhall, 125 S Oval Mall, offers free help with writing at any stage of the writing process for any member of the university community.  To schedule an appointment, call 688-4291.

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 9-26

Introductions, Syllabus

First Day Poems: Merwin, Creeley, Ferlinghetti

Poetry on the Web: Resources (In-class assignment)

textbook website: Meyer, Poetry: An Introduction

Week 2 10-1

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

course packet: William Shakespeare

Research and the Web II: The Web Source Search

Introduction to Search Terms and Wildcards (CCL)

Search Engines (CCL)


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

course packet: Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Research and the Web II: Search Engines Redux (In-Class Assignment)

Week 3 10-8

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

course packet: John Keats

Research and the Web III: Evaluating Web Sources

Web Research: Evaluating & Documenting Online Sources (CCL)


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

course packet: Friedrich Hölderlin

Research and the Web IV: The Print Source Search

Online Research in the Literature Classroom

Poetry Treasure Hunt (In-Class Assignment)

Web-based Literary Databases Treasure Hunt Worksheet (CCL)

Week 4 10-15

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

course packet: Emily Dickinson

Research and the Web Review


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

course packet: William Butler Yeats

Reading Journals 1-5 due

Week 5 10-22

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

course packet: Langston Hughes


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

course packet: Wallace Stevens

course packet: Bloom, Frye, Miller, or Yukman

Criticism Sign-Up Sheet

Reading and Annotating a Critical Article

Annotated Bibliography Assignment

Week 6 10-29

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

course packet: George Oppen

Composing a Web Page I: Netscape Composer

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


course packet: Anne Sexton

Midterm Exam Review

Week 7 11-5 Midterm Exam
11-7 No Class: Groups Prepare Bibliographies
Week 8 11-12

course packet: John Ashbery

Composing a Web Page II: Netscape Review

Preliminary Bibliographies (Ungraded) due


course packet: Fanny Howe

Final Paper Prompt

Constructing Audiovisual Presentations: Microsoft Powerpoint

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

Week 9 11-19

Williams, Paterson, Book I

Lab Time for Annotated Bibliography Group Presentations


Williams, Paterson, Book II

Lab Time for Annotated Bibliography Group Presentations

Week 10 11-25 Annoted Bibliographies due by 4:30 P.M. Monday

Annotated Bibliography Group Presentations: Merwin, Frost, and Hejinian


No Class: Thanksgiving observed

Week 11 12-3

Annotated Bibliography Group Presentations: Blake, Poe, Baudelaire

Reading Journals 1-15 due


Conclusions, Evaluations

Student Poetry Reading

Finals 12-10 Final Paper due by 1:30PM