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


"The poem of the mind . . ."

English 260C (08026-3): Introduction to Poetry

Winter 2002, T/R: 1:30 - 3:18 PM, Denney Hall 308

Instructor: Alex E. Blazer Departmental Phone: 292-6065
Mailbox: 421 Denney Hall

Office: 324 Denney Hall

Email: Office Phone: 292-3754

Office Hours: T: 3:30-4:18;

R: 12:30-1:18


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.  It is an act of mind and it requires an act of mind that is associational and rigorous. 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



Schakel and Ridl, eds., Approaching Poetry (available at SBX)

Rilke, Duino Elegies (available at SBX)

course packet (available online, 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.  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 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 (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. 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 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

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

Ferlinghetti, [Constantly risking absurdity] in course packet

Approaching Poetry


Schakel and Ridl, Ch1 Approaching Poetry (1-20)

Shakespeare in Shakel and Ridl (93, 110, 164, 156, 182-3) and course packet

Website: Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet

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

Week 2

Schakel and Ridl, Ch2 "Reading Responsively" (21-34)

Blake in Schakel and Ridl (106-7, 146, 275-8, 306-7) and course packet

Website: The William Blake Archive

Research and the Web II: The Web Source Search

Introduction to Search Terms and Wildcards (CCL)

Search Engines (CCL)


Schakel and Ridl, Ch3 "Words" (35-50)

Keats in Schakel and Ridl (58-9, 198-204) and course packet

Website: John Keats, Romantic Poet

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

Week 3

Schakel and Ridl, Ch4 "Images" (51-65)

Browning in Schakel and Ridl (76-7, 147, 315) and course packet

Website: The Browning Pages

Research and the Web III: Evaluating Web Sources

Web Research: Evaluating & Documenting Online Sources (CCL)


Schakel and Ridl, Ch5 "Speaker, Tone, and Irony" (65-81)

Dickinson in Schakel and Ridl (1, 41, 107, 143-5, 316) and course packet

Website: Emily Dickinson (The Academy of American Poets)

Research and the Web IV: The Print Source Search

Online Research at OSU (CCL)

Poetry Treasure Hunt (In-Class Assignment)

Web-based Literary Databases Treasure Hunt Worksheet (CCL)

Week 4

Schakel and Ridl, Ch 6 "Figures" (82-101)

Whitman in Schakel and Ridl (65, 133-4) and course packet

Website: The Whitman Project

Listen to Whitman read: "America"

Research and the Web Review


Schakel and Ridl, Ch7 "Symbols" (102-117)

McKay in Schakel and Ridl (164-5) and course packet

Website: Claude McKay (Modern American Poetry Site)

Reading Journals 1-5 due

Week 5

Schakel and Ridl, Ch8 "Sounds" (118-130)

Niedecker in course packet only

Website: Lorine Niedecker (Modern American Poetry Site)

Composing an Annotated Bibliography I: Reading a Critical Article

Annotated Bibliography Assignment


Schakel and Ridl, Ch9 "Rhythm and Meter" (131-51)

Stevens in Schakel and Ridl (31, 327-8) and course packet

Critical articles on Wallace Stevens in course packet: Sign-up

Website: Wallace Stevens (Modern American Poetry Site)

Listen to Stevens read "So and So Reclining on Her Couch"

Composing an Annotated Bibliography II: Writing the Annotation

Week 6

Schakel and Ridl, Ch10 "Form" (152-78)

Ferlinghetti in course packet only

Website: Lawrence Ferlinghetti at the Blue Neon Alley

Listen to Ferlinghetti read [See it was like this when] and "Underwear"

Composing a Web Page I: Netscape Composer

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

Building Websites with Netscape Composer (CCL)


Plath in Schakel and Ridl (183-4, 186-8, 192-5, 388) and course packet

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

Listen to Plath read "Daddy," "Ariel," and "The Thin People"

Midterm Exam Review

Week 7

Midterm Exam

Reading Journals 6-10 due (turn in 1-5 as well)


Andrews in course packet only

Website: Bruce Andrews Home Page (Electronic Poetry Center)

Final Paper Prompt

Constructing Audiovisual Presentations: Microsoft Powerpoint

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

Preliminary Bibliographies (Ungraded) due

Week 8

Rilke, Duino Elegies

Website: Rainer Maria Rilke (The Academy of American Poets)

Lab Time for Annotated Bibliography Group Presentations


Rilke, Duino Elegies, continued

Lab Time for Annotated Bibliography Group Presentations

Week 9

Paper Conferences

Lab Time for Annotated Bibliography Group Presentations


Annotated Bibliography Group Presentations: Coleridge, Hughes, Sanchez

Annoted Bibliographies due by 12 P.M.

Week 10

Annotated Bibliography Group Presentations: Sexton, Palmer

Reading Journals 11-15 due (turn in 1-10 as well)


Conclusions, Evaluations

Annotated Bibliography Group Presentations: Kerouac

Final Paper due