English R1B

Reading and Composition: Poetry and the Art of Cultivation

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Session Course Areas
3 Summer 2022 Bircea, Jason
TWTh 10-12 122 Wheeler C


What should we make of a poem that proposes to instruct its readers on the proper methods for manufacturing cider? Or on how to care for one’s sheep or cultivate sugarcane on a colonial plantation? Are such poems simply agricultural almanacs in verse? Or might poems about laboring, intermixing, and experimentation—what we might call the art of cultivation—be much more ambitious as well as more contentious than they initially appear? Beginning with Virgil’s Georgics, a classical poem that announces itself as a song specifically about agriculture and rural occupations, this course will explore how later writers adapted the georgic mode to address particularly modern concerns, including agrarian reform, colonization, industrialization and global trade.

In addition to instruction on “the care of sheep, [and] the labors of the loom”, this R1B course will provide you with the opportunity to cultivate your own reading and writing skills through class discussion, writing exercises, workshops and writing seminars. You’ll be asked not only to write about the poems we read and discuss in class, but more importantly, to approach your own writing as something worth tending to.

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