EN232 Introduction to Poetry

for SP 2011

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EN 232 Introduction to Poetry


SP 2011 HO


Dickerson, Rhiannon


Adjunct English Instructor


M.F.A. Poetry, Iowa Writers' Workshop, University of Iowa
B.A. English, University of Central Missouri

Office Location

Mabee 410B next to the McAfee Library

Office Hours

T TH 9-10 or by appointment. I'm also happy to meet with you online for discussion.




Semester Dates


Class Days


Class Time

10:10 - 11:25 AM

Credit Hours



Ellmann, Richard, Jahan Ramazanit, and Robert O'Clair, ed. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry. Vol. 1. New York: Norton, 2003.
Schomburg, Zachary. The Man Suit. Boston: Black Ocean, 2007.
Additional readings will be provided.

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
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Course Description:
EN232 Introduction to Poetry (MGE): A study of approaches to reading, understanding, and analyzing lyric poetry in English and American literature. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:

Poetry is one of the oldest forms of human expression. It is through poetry that we have a record of our most ancient cultural, religious and aesthetic histories. Poetry, as an art form, has persisted throughout the ages largely due to its many nuanced forms, including the most antiquated form, oral poetry. Poetry is a testament of what it means to be human, a witness of nature and history, and a search for meaning in the universe. Often readers feel disconnected to the academic approach to poetry, yet find themselves drawn to poetic expressions of their own. Accordingly, we will approach reading poetry as an act of pleasure before we endeavor to intellectualize it. We will unveil the mysteries of the human experience through poetry first by enjoying the poems, and then by unraveling them.

In this course, we will read a wide variety of modern and contemporary poetry. We’ll balance the readings by juxtaposing the early writers like Whitman, with more modern writers like Ginsberg. In this way, we will trace the effects of early poets on later poets by reading them side by side. It is my belief that this method, though not always chronological, is a more intuitive and ultimately more interesting approach to poetry. We’ll read primarily English writing poetry from America and Britain, though we’ll also explore post-war Polish poetry as well. (Polish poets like Milosz, and Wislawa Szymborska are among my favorites!) We’ll conclude the semester by reading contemporary poetry by living poets who have expanded the boundaries of what poetry is, what poetry contains, as well as what comprises poetic language. In short, we’ll be reading poetry that contains cell phones and text messages, poems that speak to us through today’s language and seek to complicate our understanding of our era in history. Primarily, the contemporary poets we’ll look at are Robert Hass, Claudia Rankine and Zachary Schomburg.

Though this class will require close reading of poetry, it is first and foremost a class of enjoyment. We will have a laid-back atmosphere and have fun reading and discussing the assigned poetry. This is an introductory level class and so will not be academically rigorous, but will be challenging. We will change the way we think about poetry, history and what it means to be human.   

Students will work on a short group presentation on a poet of their choosing (more on this later). In addition to the presentation, students will be responsible for writing a short analytical paper on a poem of their choice. Each week we will have short in-class writing exercises to explore the ways we interpret and respond to the week’s reading.

My goal is for you to be exhilarated by poetry, and  to have a better understanding of poetic form!

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify the definitive features of poetry as a literary genre
  2. Discuss a representative range of poetic texts
  3. Articulate a response/ interpretation of a single text or body of related texts

Core Assessment:

All Park University courses will include a Core Assessment with rubric. This will include ¾ of the Core LearningOutcomes listed above. The Core Assessment in this course will be a major critical paper of no fewer than 5 pages, which will include research and MLA documentation. The project will be completed in the final quarter of the term.

 The rubric for this assignment is published so the student can see the expectations. 

Link to Class Rubric

Class Assessment:

See below.


In-class writings, found poetry, cento         150
Short analytical paper                                100
Student presentation                                  100
Paper and presentation workshop               40
Poem memorization                                    20
Final exam                                                  50
Participation and Attendance                       40
Total Points                                                500

Late Submission of Course Materials:
All course work must be submitted on time. Late work WILL NOT be graded.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

Everyone will come to class prepared, having closely read the assigned work. We will engage in respectful, yet passionate conversations about poetry. Generative discussion is essential to the success of this class and your grade.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:
Rhiannon Dickerson/Intro to Poetry/ Spring 2011

Tentative Schedule of Readings and Assignments:

Week 1:  Syllabus, Name Game, Circle discussion, Read: Whitman, 3-23. In-class diagnostic essay.

Week 2: Read: Whitman, 865-870, Ginsberg’s “Howl” found here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=179381

Week 3: Dickinson, 32-41 and 870-872 and Frost 203-224, and 984-986.

Week 4: Yeats TBA, assign student presentation

Week 5: Yeats cont. NO CLASS FRIDAY—prep for presentation

Week 6: Sandburg 227-229 and return to Frost TBA. Workshop presentations.

Weeks 7 and 8: STUDENT PRESENTATIONS AND MID-TERM EXAM over student presentations—students write exam questions.

Week 9: NO CLASS—SPRING BREAK!!!! Begin reading Imagist poets—Williams and Pound. Over break, you will need to find one contemporary poet to tell the class about and from which to read a selected poem.


Week 10: High Modernism vs. Modernism: Williams, Pound, H.D.

Week 11: Eliot; Assign short paper

Week 12: War poets: Owen, Sassoon, Graves and Weigl

Week 13:  Workshop short paper; Post-war Polish Poetics: Milosz, Szymborska, etc.

Week 14: PAPER DUE; Polish poetry cont. Begin The Man Suit


Week 15:  Schomburg, Rankine, Hass, and maybe Anne Carson or Arda Collins—

Week 16: Prep for final

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life. Park University students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty (www.park.edu/current or http://www.park.edu/faculty/).from Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. from Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92-93

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95-96

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: http://www.park.edu/disability .


CompetencyExceeds Expectation (3)Meets Expectation (2)Does Not Meet Expectation (1)No Evidence (0)
1, 3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Offers clearly stated personal and critical insights to interpretation of poem or poems. Makes adequate personal and critical statements, which are relevant and interpretive. Provides only plot summary, biographical information, or fails to retain focus on poem or poems. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Incorporates primary and secondary sources using MLA documentation style perceptively and creatively in ways that provide new insights into the poem or poems. Incorporates primary and secondary sources using MLA documentation style adequately without particularly fresh insights, but still retains personal voice. Primary and secondary sources used rarely if at all and without adequate MLA documentation. Insights are predictable. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
1, 2, 3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
Provides convincing and innovative connections between texts through careful close reading of poem(s). Provides connections between texts that are obvious but nonetheless plausible and interesting. Connections between texts remain vague and undeveloped. Critique not supported by close readings. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Poetic and critical terminology applied skillfully throughout paper. Poetic and critical terminology used adequately throughout much of the paper. Rarely employs appropriate poetic and critical terminology, misuses it, or omits it altogether. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Content of Communication                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
2, 3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Skillfully interweaves passages from poem(s) and critical texts as well as strong personal statements that illustrate main point of essay. Adequately incorporates passages from poem(s) and passages from critical texts as well as some personal statements to prove thesis. Rarely provides specific passages from poem(s) or critical theory for analysis, or does so without making connections clear. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Technical Skill in Communicating                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Employs conventions of Standard Written English with grace and style in a well organized, fully developed essay. Employs conventions of Standard Written English adequately in a reasonably well organized and developed essay. Writing shows persistent problems with the use of Standard Written English. Statements are often illogical, incomprehensible; organization and development of ideas do not support thesis. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Multicultural Component                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
1, 2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Gracefully incorporates discussion of the work of one or more multicultural issue and shows relevance to theme of paper. Incorporates discussion of the work of at least one multicultural issue and provides relevant analysis. May mention work of a multicultural issue, but not in any meaningful way. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Provides links among a range of poetic texts                                                                                                                                                                                                               
1, 2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Analysis includes full discussion of a range of poetic texts. An attempt is made to include discussion of a range of texts. Paper does not address a range of texts. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 


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Last Updated:1/9/2011 4:24:21 PM