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August 30, 2004

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Dr. Laura L. Runge
Office: CPR 301J
Phone: 813-974-9496

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LIT 4930.001
Appreciating Poetry

Fall 2004
Time: Monday and Wednesday
11:00am - 12:15 pm
Room: CPR 348

  • Related Sites
  • Paper Guidelines
  • Sample Papers
  • Reference Bibliography

      Course Description

      This course is designed to train students in the art of appreciating poetry. The first part of the class will introduce a variety of short poems and educate students in skills necessary for reading and evaluating poetry. We will learn how to scan lines for meter and rhythm; we will learn to analyze in detail the use of figures such as metaphor, metonymy, personification, allusion; we will identify and appreciate techniques of sound and structure. We will explore and discuss figures of logic like irony, parody, allegory and perspective. In part two, “The Development of the Poet,” we will examine the oeuvre of John Keats and study both long and short poems. In part three, “The Development of the Poet,” we will trace the career and work of contemporary poet Adrienne Rich, exploring the role of poetry in America today. Throughout students will be encouraged to discover their own tastes and aptitudes in the genre through extensive electronic discussions, class presentations and shorter papers. Ultimately the learning process will result in each student's individually compiled -- NOT written -- anthology of poems. This is not a creative writing course; it is aimed for the genuinely curious, the avid reader and the potential writer of poetry. Students should have some college-level work in literature before taking this class.


      This course is designed to meet the following objectives:

      for students to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the formal techniques of poetry in various forms;

      for students to learn how to appreciate the many dimensions of poetry and to discuss poetry critically through cooperative learning strategies in the classroom and through weekly electronic discussions;

      for students to understand the development of Keats’ poetic technique and themes;

      for students to learn and analyze Rich’s poetic engagement with history, art and politics;

      for students to develop the ability to introduce and annotate a collection of thematically related poetry, demonstrated in the final anthology project;

    Required Materials

    (All assignments must be read in full before the date of discussion.)

    Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry , Harcourt Brace and Co, 1994 ISBN 0 15 672400 6

    Adrienne Rich’s Poetry and Prose, ed. Barbara Charlesworth Gelpi, Albert Gelpi, New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1993, ISBN 0 393 96147 8

    John Keats: The Complete Poems, ed. John Barnard, Third Edition, Penguin Books, 1988 ISBN 0140422102

    Thomas Arp and Greg Johnson, Perrine’s Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry , Thomson-Wadsworth, 2004, ISBN 0838407463

    Electronic Media

    This class will be interacting with the Blackboard website for LIT4930.001F04, to be located on your MY USF website. To register and log in, visit .

    You will find the discussion board for your weekly informal postings on this Blackboard site, and I will also post assignments, messages and further information about the class on this site. CHECK IT DAILY!


    !Important! Notes, discussion questions and more detailed reading assignments will be posted to the website for each class; to access these, click on the date on the syllabus.

    Aug. 23: Introductions

    Aug. 25 : Perrine, chs. 1-3, Oliver pp. 1-18

      Group A: Post 1

    Aug. 30: Perrine, chs. 4-5, Oliver pp. 76-108

      Group B: Post 1

    Sept. 1: Perrine, chs. 6-8

      Group A: Post 2

    Sept. 6: LABOR DAY – NO CLASS

    Sept. 8: Perrine, chs. 9-10

      Group B: Post 2

    Sept. 13: Perrine, chs. 11-12, Oliver pp. 19-57

      Group A: Post 3
      DRAFT: Device Paper DUE

    Sept. 15: Perrine, chs. 13-14, Oliver pp. 58-75

      Group B: Post 3

    Sept. 20: Perrine, chs. 15-16

      Group A: Post 4

    Sept. 22: Catch-up

      Group B: Post 4

    Sept. 27: Keats, introduction and early poems

      Group A: Post 5

    Sept. 29: Keats, Sleep and Poetry

      Group B: Post 5

    Oct. 4: Keats, early sonnets

      Group A: Post 6

    Oct. 6: Keats, later sonnets, letters

      Group B: Post 6

    Oct. 11: Keats, Eve of St. Agnes, Lamia

      Group A: Post 7

    Oct. 13: Keats, Fall of Hyperion

      Group B: Post 7

    Oct. 18: Keats, Odes to Psyche, Grecian Urn

      Group A: Post 8

    Oct. 20: Keats, Odes to Nightingale, Melancholy, Indolence

      Group B: Post 8

    Oct. 25: Keats, Ode to Autumn

      Group A: Post 9

    Oct. 27: Keats: Catch-up

      Group B: Post 9

    Nov. 1: Rich, 1951-1963, reviews

      Group A: Post 10

    Nov. 3: Rich, 1966-1971, essays

      Group B: Post 10

    Nov. 8: Rich, Diving into the Wreck, review

      Group A: Post 11

    Nov. 10: Rich, From an Old House in America

      Group B: Post 11

    Nov. 15: Rich, Transcendental Etude, For Ethel Rosenburg, essay

      Group A: Post 12

    Nov. 17: Rich, Sources, North American Time, essay

      Group B: Post 12

    Nov. 22: Rich, Yom Kippur, Atlas of a Difficult World, essay

      Group A: Post 13

    Nov. 24: Rich, essay “Blood, Bread and Poetry”

      Group B: Post 13

    Nov. 29: Rich, new poems (hand out)

      Group A: Post 14
      Sample ANTHOLOGY entry DUE

    Dec. 1: Rich, conclusions

      Group B: Post 14

    DECEMBER 6 – Anthology project due (no class)

    Graded Assignments (200 points total)

    Weekly posts (14) 45 points
    Student led discussions (2) 40 points
    2-3 page device paper (draft 9/13) due 9/27 20 points
    5 page analysis paper (draft 10/27) due 11/10 25 points
    Anthology project (sample 11/29) due 12/6 40 points
    Attendance, participation 20 points
    Mandatory office visit (one time) 10 points

    This syllabus is subject to change.

    ** Students who anticipate the necessity of being absent from class due to a major religious observance must provide notice of the date(s) to the instructor, in writing, by the second class meeting.

    Description of Graded Assignments

    Weekly Posts:

    Weekly informal writings will be due to be posted to the class discussion board on the Blackboard website. You are automatically registered for this site with your class registration. You can access this site by visiting, logging in and clicking on the tab for “Courses.” Click on the link for LIT4930.001F04 Appreciating Poetry. Click on the link for “Class Discussions” located on the left side bar, and click on “Weekly Posting.” Follow directions for reading and submitting posts from there.

    We will divide the class into Groups A and B, and you will be responsible for posting on the day your group is assigned. Posts MUST be received by midnight the night before the class on which it is due so that everyone will have an opportunity to read the posts on the morning before class. You are responsible for writing AND reading posts.

    For part one of the class (readings in Perrine and Oliver), you will be responsible for writing an annotation to a line, word or phrase in a specific poem that I assign. To learn which poem we will be annotating for class, click on the date of the class on the syllabus above; this link will lead you to notes and discussion questions for the day’s class.

    Annotation will become a major tool for us in this class, as we use it to examine closely different parts of the poem, to reveal multiple meanings and subtle nuances, and to develop our ability to express meaning in poetry through writing. To learn more about how we annotate or what annotation is, pay particular attention to Chapter three in Perrine on Denotation and Connotation. Also, Perrine offers some discussion of techniques to be used in annotation in Part 2 Writing About Poetry, in particular pp. 305-6 on explication and analysis and the examples of papers provided 334 and 337.

    For weekly posts, which are informal writings, we should focus on a single word or phrase as it conveys meaning to the poem as a whole. In other words, before annotating the specific word or phrase, the student should have a grasp of what the poem is about, and then through deeper consideration of the meaningful word or phrase, the annotation brings about a fuller understanding of the poem. Annotations can begin with formal definitions of words, drawing on Oxford English Dictionary (available online through our library’s Virtual Library) or other reliable reference dictionaries. Sometimes slang words are used, and in such a case a slang dictionary (see reference in the library) will be useful. In the case of proper nouns, other reference works, such as encyclopedias, may be necessary. Often annotations will draw on multiple meanings of the word or phrase, which add complexity, ambiguity and richness to the poem’s overall meaning. In such cases, the annotation should follow through on the implications of each relevant meaning, demonstrating how each affects the overall meaning of the poem. Other considerations for filling out the annotation include a consideration of the connotations – social, religious, political, historical, etc. As in denotation, the annotation should follow up on the implications of the different connotations of the word or phrase. Then there are the roles that meaning/connotations play in figurative language, particularly if the phrase is part of a central metaphor or other poetic device. Finally, the annotation should take into consideration the role of sound when appropriate. As you begin to write annotations, always consider why the poet chose this particular word or phrase and not another that might satisfy some of the other requirements of the poem.

    It should be expected that your annotations become increasingly complex as you become more versed with the techniques of poetry.

    Student Led Discussions:

    Each student in the class will be required to lead a discussion of a poem from Keats and from Rich. Thus, each student will do two (2) discussions. We will sign up for specific poems early in the semester, so that each student will be aware of the dates for his or her presentations.

    The object of these oral presentations is to get the student to practice analyzing poetry in an open-ended way, bringing observations and questions to the class and probing the class to explore details of the poem further. No outside research is required for the presentation, but it is welcome. The student assigned to a specific poem on the syllabus will be “extra-ready” to discuss the poem, and he or she will begin the discussion with an overview of the poem. He or she will be the poem’s “expert” and should be prepared to ask and answer questions on the poem. Fear not; you will never be saddled with complete responsibility for the poem! I will always be there to co-lead discussions. However, your job will be to do extra preparation and to bring to class focused ideas for leading a discussion of the poem. Here are some guidelines for your presentations:

    The introduction of the poem should last between five and ten minutes and it should involve the following:

  • description of the poem (form, content) and summary
  • oral delivery of all or part of the poem (if you are responsible for a long poem, choose a part to focus your discussion on)
  • evaluation of the poem – assess the strengths and weaknesses of the poem

    Also provide discussion questions: pick out specific details in the poem that might generate productive conversation or might open up the meaning of the poem; or develop questions that will lead the class to a deeper understanding of the poem; or ask questions about the meaning of particularly difficult or ambiguous parts of the poem. It is a good idea to prepare these on a handout for the class to read with you. I can also post these to Blackboard before class if you like.

    Device paper (draft due 9/13) due 9/27

    2-3 page paper focused on a specific example of a single poetic device. The object of the paper is to define the poetic device and illustrate it through a single example. For example, you may write an essay defining a metaphor of the fourth form (Perrine’s vocabulary, see p. 72) and use Dickinson’s “It sifts from leaden sieves” to illustrate. Alternatively, you may want to define and explain the poetic device of repetition and use Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We Real Cool” to demonstrate the effectiveness. The challenge will be to choose a good example and to write clearly and comprehensively about the meaning conveyed by the example. You need to choose a poetic device that is complex enough to give you matter for at least two pages and yet not overly complex so that you can treat the device fully.

    By “poetic device” I mean any technique or tool employed by the poet to produce meaning in the poem. This is an exercise in vocabulary and reading. Challenge yourself to work on a device that you are not familiar or at ease with. Remember that not all the elements of poetry that we are studying would be considered a poetic device. Fo r example, “diction” or word choice is not an appropriate subject for your paper. Neither is tone. All poets use diction, and all poems have tone. Diction constitutes ifferent devices, and so you will look at word choice in your explanation of a device. Certain devices help to create tone, and so you may discuss tone as an effect of the device. Metaphors, allusions, parodies, use of line length and caesura, internal rhymes, etc., all serve as good devices.

    Analysis Paper (draft 10/27) due 11/10

    5 page paper focused on a particular aspect of Keats’ poetry. See section on Writing on Poetry in Perrine’s Sound and Sense, page 306, for a detailed description of analysis. There is also a good example of this type of paper beginning on page 337. This assignment differs from the previous one in that you are challenged to make a point about one aspect of Keats’ poetry. While your first essay is an exercise in applying what you have learned, this essay requires you to offer interpretation of the poem in a more complete and comprehensive way. You may choose a single poem and discuss its thematic development; or you may choose a single image repeated in several poems. Again, choose a topic that fits the five-page limit. The object is to address an idea sufficiently – not too little, not too much. If you have questions or doubts, please check with me. Also, I will give you advice on this on the draft of your paper.

    Anthology Project (sample 11/29) due 12/6

    This is the culmination of your work in the class, and it should demonstrate that you have met the objectives of the course. You will compile an anthology of poems grouped thematically; you will provide an introductory essay for the collection and you will briefly introduce and annotate each poem. For fairly obvious reasons, you will probably not want to include long poems (poems over 200 lines). You may photocopy the poem to be included in your project, or you may type it. Please include line numbers if available. You should include at least 5 poems, but for each poem under 25 lines you should include a second poem.

    Make sure to include an appropriate title for the collection. After this provide a general introduction of approximately 3-4 pages. This opening essay describes your theme and how each poem fits into the whole and compares with the others. Strive to treat the poems both as an object of artistic creation – focusing on form and technique and evaluating the success of these techniques, and as a vehicle of meaning – focusing on the themes or ideas conveyed. To introduce each poem you will be responsible for a brief essay, between 1 and 2 pages in length. The essay should provide important information about the author, the title, the original publication, context or background if relevant. The remainder of the essay s hould include a short analysis of the poem, beginning with a coherent and concise description. Highlight the strengths of the poem, and if appropriate the weaknesses of the poem. Include an analysis of form as well as content. One objective of the brief introduction is to demonstrate why the poem is worth including in your private anthology. However, you need not write "I am including this essay because ...." Rather, demonstrate the poem's worth (and your ability to distinguish the values of a poem) in the essay on the poem's strength. Each introduction should be followed by the poem, as in a published anthology.

    Annotations of difficult or particularly rich phrases or words, as well as non-English, slang or archaic words, personal names and other proper nouns, should follow the poem, indexed to line numbers.

    This project will be subject to the rules of formal writing, and so you should proofread carefully and prune for style. Pay particular attention to the section on Writing About Poetry in Perrine’s.

    You can choose the poems from the syllabus, or from the selection of poems provided in the textbooks. If you choose a work outside of these parameters, please seek approval from me beforehand.

    Attendance and Participation

    See class policies.

    Mandatory Office Meeting

    Sometime by mid-October, I would like to meet each of you outside of class for an informal one-on-one discussion. These are short, unscripted meetings. I’ve found it very beneficial to meet with my students in my office and to learn a bit about the person you are. This will also give you an opportunity to learn a little about me and to ask any questions you might not feel comfortable asking in class. We can also discuss your progress in class and any individual strategies for you to get the most out of the class. If you cannot attend my scheduled office hours, please let me know, and we can set up an appointment.

    Related Sites

      General Sites on Poetry

    • VoS English Literature: English Literature Page A highly organized and extensive collection of web sources for literature; with search engine.

    • Representative Poetry Online: Representative Poetry Online, version 3.0, includes about 2,900 English poems by over 400 poets from Caedmon, in the Old English period, to the work of living poets today. It is based on Representative Poetry, established by Professor W. J. Alexander of University College, University of Toronto, in 1912 (one of the first books published by the University of Toronto Press), and used in the English Department at the University until the late 1960s. The current website is a tremendous resource for students of literature. In addition to its vast selection of poetry, it also offers links to criticism, timeline, and bibliography on the poems. It is a trustworthy site.

    • Bob's Byway: A Poetic Diversion This site features an extensive Glossary of Poetic Terms, some Tips for the Enjoyment of Poetry and A Selection of Bob's Poems. I recommend this site for a quick fix on vocabulary. The sources are sometimes dated, but the information is reliable.

    • Modern and Contemporary American Poetry: A site created by Al Filreis of the University of Pennsylvania, containing a large number of links to poetry texts and sites related to poetry, a glossary of poetic terms and a class syllabus.

    • The Poet's Corner: Perhaps the largest and certainly the most diverse collection of poetry on the web, containing thousands of poems by several hundred authors.

    • The Poetry Archive -- another database of poems and poets. The writers do not identify themselves. The website features what they call "classical" authors, but that includes writers from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The term probably refers to authors whose works are no longer protected by copyright.

      John Keats

    • British Library Exhibition-- Search under "John Keats" and you will be led to a previous exhibit. This site provides background and pictures of Keats, especially interesting for information on his publications and pictures of manuscripts. PLUS! An audio file with a recording of a nightingale (requires Java script).

    • Web Concordances -- John Keats' Odes of 1819: Search to find the occurrence of specific words in his odes.

      Adrienne Rich

    • Rich's Life and Career -- by Deborah Pope. This article, taken from The Oxford Companion to Women's Writing in the United States is posted on the Modern American Poetry website. There are additional resources on Rich available on this website. Her bibliography, though, stops at 1995. She has several additional publications since then.

    • Norton Poets online: This site has the most up-to-date bibliography for Rich's work, a recent picture and -- cool -- an audio file of her reading from Fox her most recent collection.

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