English R1B

Reading & Composition: Defenses of Poetry

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
5 Spring 2014 Ketz, Charity Corine
MWF 11-12 225 Wheeler

Book List

Grossman, Allen, and Mark Halliday: The Sighted Singer: Two Works on Poetry for Readers and Writers; Kwasny, Melissa: Toward the Open Field: Poets on the Art of Poetry, 1800-1950; Rilke, Rainer Maria: Letters to a Young Poet; Smith, Barbara Herrnstein: Poetic Closure: A Study of How Poems End; Vickers, Brian: English Renaissance Literary Criticism; Wordsworth, William, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Lyrical Ballads


“Poetry defeats the curse which binds us to be subjected to the accident of surrounding impressions…and it purges from our inward sight the film of familiarity which obscures from us the wonder of our being….It is the faculty which contains within itself the seeds at once of its own and of social renovation”—so Percy Bysshe Shelley maintains in his famous Defense of Poetry. In this course we will survey the claims that poets have made for poetry from the sixteenth century to the present. We will consider questions of poetic form and the power of figurative language as well as normative statements about the poetic character and about poetry’s purposes in shaping knowledge, emotions, and society. While we will spend much of our time investigating these statements of poetics in their own right, being attentive to their arguments, their artful construction, their choice of illustrations, etc., we will also read some of the poetry that accompanied them. (We will read a selection of Keats’ letters alongside a few of his shorter poems; we will read Shelley’s Defense alongside Prometheus Unbound.) Requirements for the course include three shorter (3-5 page) papers (one of which will be creative) and a longer research project.


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