The University of Southampton
Courses

ENGL1004 Poetic Language

Module Overview

How do we read poems, and what language can we use to describe our readings? This module will provide a detailed introduction to the particular qualities your ear, eye and brain will need to read poetry more effectively. You will study key features of poetic language in detail, including metre, sound, voice, rhetoric and tone. You will also be introduced to various genres that make play with these features, from repetition in the ballad form to the shifting voices of the lyric. You will have the opportunity to read poems from many periods and traditions, from the medieval riddle to the postmodern elegy. The aim of this module is not to help you make inventories: a successful reading of a poem is more than a technical exercise or a prose paraphrase. You will read a selection of criticism during the module, and consider how poetry’s peculiar alchemy might be described in words. By building your confidence in poetic language, you will sharpen your appetite and develop your taste for poetry in all its forms.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• To introduce you to the properties of poetic language and form • To give you practice in reading poetry for both sound and sense • To enable you to write clearly and cogently about poetry • To familiarise you with literary and social history relevant to the study of poetry

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Strategies for reading, understanding and writing about poetry
  • Significant differences among poetic practices in select periods of literary history, such as the Renaissance, Romanticism and Modernism
  • The vocabulary for the study of poetry, such as metres, figures of language, lineation and aural devices
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Read and analyse texts that sometimes operate illogically and non-discursively
  • Write short essays that aim for clarity and correctness
  • Work with others to examine textual meanings
  • Express your views in a small-group setting
  • Scan poetry
  • Use the Oxford English Dictionary
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Recognize and analyse poetic forms and effects
  • Read poetry critically and with increased pleasure
  • Write clear and convincing explications of poetry
  • Appreciate the effects of historical and social context in the creation and reception of poetry

Syllabus

The first section of the module will focus on the building blocks of poetic language; sound figure, metre and voice. The second section will explore how close attention to a poem’s tonal shifts, rhetorical ambiguities, allusions and critical reception can help enrich your reading. Each week, we will consider the topic with reference to a particular form or genre; in this way, your understanding of allusion will also introduce you to epic poetry, and your navigation of voice can help you explore the lyric. Short preparation tasks for each seminar and group discussion will help develop your confidence in reading poetry.

Special Features

Listening to lectures, reading carefully, writing essays and discussing poetry in seminars enables you to develop your analytical abilities and your skills in written and oral expression.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures • Seminars • Individual tutorials, as needed Learning activities include • Careful, repeated reading of poems as assigned • Reading of supplementary materials • Participating in seminar discussion • Writing essays • Making individual and small-group presentations

TypeHours
Preparation for scheduled sessions60
Wider reading or practice16
Seminar12
Follow-up work16
Lecture12
Completion of assessment task34
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

The Norton Anthology of Poetry. 

John Strachan and Richard Terry (2011). Poetry. 

Assessment

Formative

Exercise

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 60%
Essay  (1000 words) 40%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (1000 words) 40%
Essay  (2000 words) 60%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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