English 112W.07

Professor Karin Westman
TR 9:35-10:50 a.m.
425 Benson Hall
322-2326 (Office)
298-4607 (Home)
Required Texts:
Allison, et. al., eds. Norton Anthology of Poetry, 4th edition
Abrams, Glossary of Literary Terms, 6th edition
Hacker, The Bedford Handbook For Writers, 4th edition
Xeroxes (Reserve Room, Heard Library)


This course is designed to introduce you to various forms of poetry in English and to improve your critical skills in reading and writing. As we read poets from the Renaissance to the present day, we will develop a vocabulary for talking about poetry while we study the formal elements of poetry and the persistence of several thematic concerns. We will talk about writing in class, through peer reviews, and individually in conference.



During the semester you will write four papers of varying lengths. You will revise the first two of these papers for a final paper grade. Failure to produce a good faith effort on a draft will result in a grade penalty on the graded version. Upon consultation with me, you may also choose to revise any paper for which you receive lower than a "C" grade. Grades for further revisions will be counted as another paper grade, not substituted for or averaged with the first grade received.

Papers must be typed, double-spaced with one-inch margins (one page = a page of approximately 250 words, double spaced); the pages should be numbered, stapled or paper-clipped together, spell-checked, and proof-read. You must include the first, marked version of your paper with your revision to receive a grade. Papers are due at class time or by the time and date listed on the syllabus. Late papers will be penalized one grade increment (e.g., B+ to B) for each day late.

When you turn in a paper, you pledge that the work is your own and that you have abided by the guidelines for documenting sources. Vanderbilt's Honor Code obliges you to cite the source of any idea that is not your own. If you quote, paraphrase, or use another's ideas, you must give credit to the person whose ideas you are using. The Bedford Handbook For Writers provides guidelines for MLA documentation. However, you will need no secondary sources for these papers; I recommend you avoid them, and offer your own ideas.

Response Papers:

Once a week, you will hand in at the beginning of class a typed, double-spaced response paper (1-2 pages) to one of the two or three poems designated by an asterisk on the syllabus. Response papers are due the day we begin our discussion; they are intended to help to prepare you for class discussion and improve your critical reading and writing skills.

For your response paper, select one or two lines, a phrase, or even word from the poem; type your selection out in full, and then write a commentary in which you aim to articulate why your selection strikes you as important or significant to a reading of the poem. In other words, use your selected lines or word(s) to explore the poem's theme(s) and form. Your response paper may also include your personal response to the poem, or perhaps how the poem relates to others we have discussed in class. In your response, you should engage closely with the chosen line(s) or word(s) and offer specific reasons in support of your response. Your response should not be a paraphrase of the poem; instead, you should articulate your reading of the poem through your selection.

Response papers will not be graded individually, but as a whole: please keep them together in a folder, so I can evaluate your progress at the end of the semester. Points will be deducted for late (-0.5) or missing (-1.0) response papers.

Class Participation and Leading Class Discussion:

Attendance and class participation are required. More than two unexcused absences will be reflected in your final grade for the course; these two excused absences should be reserved for unexpected illnesses or family emergencies. Each absence over the allotted absences will lower your final course grade by one grade increment (e.g., B to B-).

You are expected to have read and to be prepared to discuss the readings assigned for each class session. Your class participation grade will be determined by your ability to engage in productive class discussion and readings. You must be present and be an active presence in class discussion and peer review groups. If necessary, any in-class quizzes will be part of your class participation grade.

Once during the semester, each of you (working in pairs) will initiate our class discussion and sustain it for about 10 minutes. This activity has two goals: to make the classroom more interactive and collaborative, and to encourage you to ask questions and pursue them towards a reading of a poem.

Before the day you lead discussion, you will need to do the following:


Choose a specific passage or two as a focus for your question or questions. Note: while your question can (and should) lead us to other areas in the poem, select a specific place as a launching point.


Develop discussion questions on some issues or ideas you think we should address. Discussion questions should have more than one possible answer, and should lead to other questions. For example, the question "What is the meter of this poem?" is not a discussion question; the question "How does the meter of the poem contribute to its theme?" is a discussion question. Note: While your discussion questions should point us towards a reading of the poem, your questions can certainly be ones to which you do not yet have complete answers. For example, you may wonder why in Shakespeare's sonnet #18 the speaker compares his beloved to a summer's day; your question for the class might address this issue by calling our attention to one of the several comparisons within the sonnet and asking us how the beloved fares in the comparison.


Make an outline of your discussion, including the passage(s) you intend to focus on, and the questions you will ask. Your outline needs to reach me 24 hours in advance of class: email it to me or put it in my box in Benson.

Garland Lab Sessions:

Over the course of the semester we will meet about six times in the Garland Microcomputer Lab, where you will participate in various activities using the Daedalus Integrated Writing Program (DIWE). For each of these sessions you will need to bring an IBM-formatted computer disk.


You will all meet with me individually after the first paper and before the fourth paper, but I am always available for conferences. Please feel free to stop by during Office Hours (MW 1-2 pm, TR 11-12 noon), or to arrange a more convenient time to meet.


Response Papers
Leading Class Discussion
Class Participation
Final Exam

R 8 Introduction
T 13 Tone and Diction (Abrams 155-7, 163-4): Jonson, "Still to Be Neat"*; Goldsmith, "When Lovely Woman Stoops to Folly"; Swift, "A Description of the Morning"; Wordsworth, "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802"; Housman, "Eight O'clock"(x)

R 15 Imagery and Figures of Speech (Abrams 36-7, 66-70): Eliot, "Preludes"*; Heaney, "Digging"


T 20 Keats, "To Autumn"; Dickinson, #280 ("I Felt a Funeral in my Brain") Sound, Meter, Rhyme (Abrams 138-9, 112-7, 184-7): Blake, "London"*

R 22 Writing Workshop: 1st Paper Due (3 pp, 3 copies)


T 27 Poetic Forms: The Sonnet (Abrams 197-8): Spenser, Sonnet #75*; Sidney, Sonnet #1; Drayton, Sonnet #6; Shakespeare, Sonnets #18 and #130; Wordsworth, "Scorn Not the Sonnet"; Keats, "On the Sonnet"

R 29 ...and Variations (Abrams 34-5): Frost, "Design"*; Hollander, "Swan and Shadow"*; Apollinaire, "Rain" (x); Baudelaire, "Get Drunk" (x); Swenson, "Cardinal Ideograms"

Revision of 1st Paper Due

T 3 Writing Workshop: 2nd Paper Due (5 pp, 3 copies)
R 5 Poems on Poetry: Moore, "Poetry"*; MacLeish, "Ars Poetica"; Stevens, "Of Modern Poetry" (x)* and "The Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour" (x)

T 10 Love and Desire: Herrick, "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time"; Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress"*; Donne, "Elegy XIX. To His Mistress Going to Bed"*

R 12 Millay, "I, Being Born a Woman and Distressed"; Frost, "To Earthward"* and "The Subverted Flower" (x)

T 17 Yeats, "Adam's Curse"*; Atwood, "Variations on the Word Love" (x)


R 19 Dialogues: Frost, "Birches"* and "Wild Grapes" (x)*

F 20 Revision of 2nd Paper Due at 12 noon.

T 24 Frost, "Home Burial" (x)*; Morrissey, "Birches" (x); Carver, "The Gift" (x)

R 26 Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"*


T 10 Memory: Wordsworth, "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey"*; Crane, "My Grandmother's Love Letters"
R 12 Eliot, "The Waste Land" (Part I*)


T 17 "The Waste Land" (Part II* and III) R 19 "The Waste Land" (Part IV* and V*)

F 20 3rd Paper Due (5 pp) at 12 noon.

T 24 "(No ideas/ but in things)" (Abrams 88): W.C. Williams, "The Red Wheelbarrow" and "A Sort of Song"*; Pound, "In a Station of the Metro"; H.D., "Sea Rose" and "Garden" (x)


R 26 Roethke, "Dolor" (x)*; Simic, "The Cold" (x) and "Shirt" (x); America: "The American Dream" from The United States of Poetry" (handout)


T 31 Whitman, "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"*; Sandburg, "Chicago"

R 2 Ginsburg, "Howl" (Part I)* and "Howl" (Parts II and III; x) and "A Supermarket in California" (x); cummings, "'next to of course god america i"* and "a salesman is an it that stinks Excuse" (x)
M 6 4th Paper Due (7pp) at 12 noon.

T 7 Dunbar, "We Wear the Mask"*; Cullen, "Incident"; Waller and Razaf, "(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue" (x)*; Soyinka, "Telephone Conversation"

R 9 Hughes, "Harlem," "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," "Harlem Sweeties," and "Theme for English B"*

T 14 Rich, "Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law"*; Swenson, "Motherhood"


R 16 Rich, "Diving into the Wreck"*; Atwood, "Spelling" (x); Levine, "What Work Is" (x)*, "Soloing" (x)

T 21 Conclusion and Review

Take Home Final Exam Due April 28

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Last updated 28 April 1998.