The course will open with introductory lectures on how to read a poem and relations between poems. This will be followed by two thematic clusters: poetry and profession, and poetry and the everyday. In each of these three sections, we will study in detail the rhetoric poets use, and poems from different historical periods. The poems from the different sections can illuminate each other. We will also pay attention to poems as socially mediated constructs. The study of poetry as self-expression is necessarily complemented and counterbalanced by the study of poetry, sociality, and society.



Students will be taught how to read, that is, understand, interpret and critically analyze different kinds of poems, and how a knowledge of literary conventions, themes, poet's life and times, and other historical and contextual information can help and enable reading.




By the end of the course, students should be able

  • to read many poems in English confidently
  • to produce a well-informed response to a poem's technical, expressive and ideological features
  • to be conversant with some of the major poetic forms
  • to show a knowledge of the formal and artistic issues that have concerned poets from different times and places
  • to appreciate and discuss intertextual relations between poems from different historical moments
  • to appreciate and discuss differences in the ways poets have written about gender, romance, everyday life, and their own professional and social identities




The 3 timetabled hours will be used for lectures and workshops/tutorials.




Coursework accounts for 100% of your grade and will depend on:


Oral contributions

  • attendance and participation in lecture discussion
  • workshop and tutorial presentations and participationĀ in group discussion
  • online entries and discussion


Writing assignments

  • 1 term paper




There will be three topics in the course: "An Approach to Reading", "Poetry and Profession", and "Poetry and the Everyday".




Details of the syllabus will be posted on the Moodle coursepage. Students who are registered in the course will be able to access the coursepage during the add/drop period.

An Approach to Reading
John Donne: "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" (
Adrienne Rich: "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning"
William Shakespeare: Sonnet XVIII "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day"
Sonnet XCVIII "From you have I been absent in the spring" (
Alfred Tennyson: In Memoriam, No. vii (
No. xiii (
No. lxx (



Last updated: 28 August 2015