ENGL 205
The Art of Poetry: The History and Theory of Lyric Fall 2019
Division I Writing Skills

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“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?” This excerpt from a letter by Emily Dickinson indicates both the particular pleasures of reading poetry, and also the persistent difficulty of defining poetry as a genre. In this course, we will train our focus on lyric poetry in particular, tracing its long history as well as trends in the theory of lyric. We’ll begin by uncovering the roots of lyric in antiquity before shifting our focus to the development of lyric in English. We’ll read closely the work of such poets as Wyatt, Donne, Wordsworth, Keats, Hopkins, and Dickinson before turning to questions of lyric in the 20th and 21st centuries. Along the way, we’ll examine the trends in criticism responsible for the conflation of lyric and poetry in our time, and will get a strong sense of the current state of lyric theory.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 1707
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: frequent short writing assignments totaling 20+ pages, thoughtful participation in discussions
Prerequisites: a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam
Enrollment Preferences: first- and second-year students, and English majors who have yet to take a Gateway course
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
WS Notes: Frequent informal writing assignments and two formal papers: one (5-7 pages) due at the midterm, and one final paper (10-12 pages), in preparation for which students will submit a proposal and meet with the professor as their research develops. Students will receive from the instructor timely comments on their writing skills, with suggestions for improvement.
Attributes: ENGL 200-level Gateway Courses

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