English R1B

Reading and Composition: The Prose Poem: The Past, Present and Future of a Form

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2005 Julie Carr
MWF 9-10 103 Wheeler Hall

Other Readings and Media

"William Blake: selections from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (in course reader)

Charles Baudelaire: a selection of prose-poems, excerpts from essays (in course reader)

Arthur Rimbaud: a selection from Illuminations (in course reader)

Gertrude Stein: Selections from Tender Buttons (in course reader)

Selections from Great American Prose-Poems, ed. David Lehman

Lyn Hejinian: My Life

Claudia Rankine: Don't Let Me be Lonely: An American Lyric"


"In this course we will be reading and responding to nineteenth and twentieth, and twenty-first century texts which fall into the amorphous category of the prose-poem. With an eye toward sharpening our sensitivity to form and our appreciation for experimental writing of all kinds we will read, discuss and write about prose-poems from authors such as William Blake, Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, John Ashbery, Lyn Hejinian, as well as many lesser-known practitioners. Some of the questions we will ask are: when do we call a text a ""prose poem"" and why? What motivates an author to choose a particular form for their work? What effect does form have on the reader? What effect does the lack of line-breaks have on a reader expecting poetry, and, conversely, what effect does what we might call poetical language have on a reader expecting prose? What is poetical language?

With the goal of developing simultaneously as critical readers and skilled writers, you will be asked to write a total of thirty-two pages throughout the course. Some of this writing will be in the mode of informal response, but the bulk of it will be in the form of three short essays and one longer essay. While much of class time will be spent in discussing the reading, we will also work together on how to develop a thesis statement, research outside material, organize an argument, and polish a final draft. This course satisfies the second half of the University's reading and composition requirement.

Course Requirements: Attendance is, of course mandatory. And in addition to completing the assigned reading, you will be required to hand in a total of six written responses of 1-2 pages. These can be informal, but should include thoughts and questions about the texts, not simply descriptions. You will also be asked to complete three 3-5 page papers, one 8-10 page research paper, and to give one presentation during the semester. I will provide essay prompts for the papers, though these will always be optional. I will encourage you to develop the ideas in your response pages into the longer papers. You will also be asked to revise two of these papers. We will work on the revisions independently during office hours as well as occasionally in peer-editing exercises in class. The revised papers will be graded after the final revision. "

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