ENGL 445 01 Spring 2017     Dr. W. Gardner Campbell

Form & Theory of Poetry                                Anderson 205/828-1172/

Hibbs 327/TR 12:30-1:45                              Office hrs. TR 2:00-3:15 & by appt.

This course is dedicated to the memory of Elizabeth Phillips and Claudia Emerson.

Course Goals:

To grow more expert about the idea of poetry.
To learn how the craft of poetry shapes meaning, and vice-versa.
To learn how the oral performance of poetry shapes meaning, and vice-versa.

Textbooks: The Norton Anthology of Poetry (5th ed.)
Emerson, Claudia. Late Wife
Lennard, John. The Poetry Handbook (2nd ed.)
Schnackenberg, Gjertrud. Heavenly Questions

Syllabus (subject to change)

1/17    Introduction: “An Old-Fashioned Song”

1/19    Robert Frost, “The Oven Bird.” John Hollander, “A Close Look At Robert Frost” (

1/24   Lennard, “Meter.” Shakespeare, Sonnet 29

1/26    “Meter,” Donne, “The Canonization”  *  *Assignment here.* 

1/31    “Meter,” Hopkins, “Felix Randall,” Dickinson, “There’s a Certain Slant of Light”

2/2      “Meter,” Moore, “What Are Years,” “Poetry”

2/7      Lennard, “Form,” Bishop, “Sestina,” “One Art”

2/9      “Form,” Bishop, “One Art,” continued

2/14    Lennard, “Punctuation and Lineation,” Brooks, “We Real Cool,” “my dreams, my works must wait till after hell”

2/16    “Punctuation and Lineation,” course advisories

2/21    “Punctuation and Lineation,” Brooks (cont.), “We Real Cool,” ‘my dreams, my works must wait till after hell”

2/23    “Punctuation and Lineation,” Tennyson, “Tithonus”

2/28    “Rhyme,” “Tithonus,” continued.

3/2      Midterm Analysis due. Class conversation on the course of study thus far.

3/4-3/12                     SPRING BREAK

3/14    “Rhyme” “Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

3/16    “Diction and Syntax,” Prufrock,” continued

3/21    “Diction and Syntax”   “Prufrock,” continued, Levis, “Winter Stars”

3/23    “Diction and Syntax”   “Winter Stars,” continued

3/28    “Diction and Syntax”   “Winter Stars,” continued

3/30    Emerson, Late Wife, Lennard, “Biography and Gender”

4/4-     Emerson

4/6      Emerson

4/11    Emerson

4/13    Emerson

4/18    Schnackenberg, Heavenly Questions, “Archimedes Lullaby”

4/20    Review day for final projects, blog portfolio, exam            

4/25    Schnackenberg, Heavenly Questions, “Sublimaze”

4/27    Schnackenberg, Heavenly Questions, “Venus Velvet #2”              

5/2      Schnackenberg, Heavenly Questions, “Fusituriccula Lullaby” with Hypothesis annotations. Also, please view/listen to Schnackenberg’s performance. See menu bar, above.  (Final project and blog post portfolio due)

FINAL EXAM: May 9, 1:00-3:50 p.m.


** Two “poetry journal” blog posts a week, evenly distributed (no bunching).
** Participation in our online annotation experiment (details TBA).
** A midterm analysis (commentary and analysis of a poem and a recorded performance, chosen w/Dr. C.).
** A portfolio of your five best “poetry journal” blog posts.
** Final project (commentary, analysis, and performance of a lyric poem). See menu bar above, “Dr. C. Advisories.”
**A final exam

GRADING:  Papers, exams, and class participation are graded on a 100-point scale.  Letter grade equivalents are as follows:

A+        98-100                            B+     87-89                   C+    77-79 D+    67-69          F  59 and below

A           93-97                             B       83-86                   C       73-76 D      63-66

A-         90-92                             B-      80-82                   C-      70-72 D-     60-62

Weighting for each assignment:

Blog posts (credit/no credit)         10%            Midterm analysis   20%           Hypothesis participation 05%

Blog portfolio                              10%            Final project         35%           Final exam  20%

ATTENDANCE:  You are responsible for all material covered in class meetings.  Regular attendance is wise.

HONOR CODE:  The VCU Honor Code is in effect for this course of study.


  1. I will do my best to start class on time; please be prompt.
  2. In all course interactions, both face-to-face and electronically: passion encouraged, civility required.
  3. Some of the materials in this class—books, lectures, discussions, etc.—concern issues and topics including but not limited to race, gender, sexuality, religion, and politics. In particular, some materials may include depictions of violence and/or sexuality that some readers may find objectionable or offensive. I will do my best to treat these matters discreetly and with the highest standards of professional good conduct. In turn, I expect you to help me create a community in which these challenging and potentially uncomfortable issues can be discussed in a mature, sensitive, thoughtful, and tolerant manner.

On Reserve in Cabell Library:

Corns, Alfred. The Poem’s Heartbeat
Hollander, John. The Work Of Poetry
Kinzie, Mary. A Poet’s Guide To Poetry

Good site for practicing scansion:

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