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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Aaron J Ottinger
ENGL 243
Seattle Campus

Reading Poetry

Critical interpretation and meaning in poems, representing a variety of types and periods.

Class description

Our class will explore British and American verse beginning with Shakespeare and working into the twentieth-century. The course investigates how poetry develops over the centuries, how movements achieve definition, and how one period replies to its predecessor(s). In other words, we will focus largely on literary history. However, in-class lectures and discussions will often draw on historical contexts and other media demonstrating how an artwork engages with multiple relationships; furthermore, students will encounter formal, historical, and phenomenological strategies for accessing poetry. Some questions the class will consider: How does poetry work? What is the function of poetry? How does the figure of the poet evolve?

Authors, schools, and movements include: Shakespeare, the Metaphysical Poets, Milton, Swift, Pope, Romanticism, Modernism, the Confessional poets, the Black Mountain poets, and the New York School.

Student learning goals

1) Students will demonstrate a fundamental knowledge of genres, modes, mythoi, or literary periods.

2)Students will be able to perform competent close readings of course texts and similar texts.

3)Students will improve their writing skills generally, and with regard to writing about literature and culture.

General method of instruction

While there may be an occasional lecture, class discussion will serve as our primary mode of engagement.

Recommended preparation

It is recommended that students take English 131 beforehand, as we will write a 10-12 page paper using methods taught in 131 (or its equivalent).

Class assignments and grading

Students should be prepared to write one long paper divided into two parts (a 5 page paper revised and extended to 10-12 pages), comparing and contrasting at least two major time periods, movements, or authors. Bi-weekly analyses of the poetry are required as is daily participation during class discussion.

30% participation, 70% final paper.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Aaron J Ottinger
Date: 02/16/2012