English 40: A Landscape of British Poetry,
Professor: Michael Gamer
Office Hours and Other Information
Professor: Michael Gamer
Office and Phone: 203 Bennett Hall, (215) 898-7346
Office Hours: Wed. 10-11, 12-1, and by appt.
WATU Tutor: Michael Vennera (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Michael Vennera's Office and Phone:
Michael Vennera's Office Hours:
TEXTS: Available at Penn Book Center, 3726 Walnut, ph:222-7600.
- A Guide to the New MLA Documentation Style. Ed. J.
Trimmer. (NY: Houghton Mifflin).
- Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms.
- Clare, John. The Selected Poetry and Prose of John Clare, ed.
Raymond and Merryn Williams. (Methuen Press).
- Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. The Rime of
the Ancient Mariner and Other Poems (Dover, ISBN#0486272664).
- Keats, John John Keats, Selected Poems
- Shepheard, Paul. The Cultivated Wilderness, Or What Is
- Wordsworth, William. Favorite
BULKPACK: Available at Wharton Reprographics, Basement of Wharton
School. Contains poems by Coleridge, Finch, Gray, Goldsmith,
Killigrew, Pope, Phillips, Robinson, Rossetti, Shelley, Smith, and
Wordsworth. This coursepack also contains several articles.
Back in the early nineteenth century, the famous reviewer and critic
Francis Jeffrey wrote in The Edinburgh Review that there were "not thirty
[poets] whose works are to be found in the hands of ordinary readers--in
the shops of ordinary booksellers--or in the press for republication"
(Contributions to the Edinburgh Review 289). At that time, Jeffrey joked
about wanting to stop the production of the poets and the presses, if only
for a decade, so that he could direct his readers to the vast amount of
good British poetry, either neglected or forgotten, that he did not want
to see die. Therefore, in this course, we will do our best to do the
impossible: sample British poetry from 1680 to 1850 in our own Grand Tour
that hopefully will achieve an understanding even about the authors that
we will not have time to read. We will do so by looking into a tradition
of poetry--that of landscape--that will allow us to construct a more
cohesive trajectory of British poetry by seeing how present poet revise
and transform their predecessors in order to present their own ways of
seeing. Understanding the various topographies of British poetry,
furthermore, will allow us to examine how it constructs psychological and
political landscapes as well.
NOTE: The first 2 paragraphs must be handed in on the given due
date. The 3rd may be handed in at any time before Halloween. The 4th one
may be handed in at any time before Thanksgiving. All must be given to me
in class and on the day we are reading the text you wish to discuss.
Sept 3: Opening Day of course. Anne
Finch, "On Myself."
Sept 5: Please send me an e-mail message so that I know you have an
e-mail account and that you are in the class. This Class will be on the
Question of "What Spaces Do Authors Construct for Themselves?"
Reading: Read all of the poems in the bulkpack by Anne Killigrew.
For Discussion: Anne
Finch, "The Introduction," "The Apology." What is the landscape
within which women write? Who peoples it? What traditions exist?
Sept 8: Autobiography as Fiction. Reading: Read the poems from the
bulkpack by Katherine Phillips ("The Matchless Orinda"). For Discussion
(read these very very closely): Anne
Finch, "On Myself" and "The Bird in the Arras". Question:
Students often feel compelled simply to read Finch as the bird in the
arras. To what extent do the three poems we've discussed by Finch support
Sept 10: Nature and Poetry. Reading: Read through all of the poems
Finch, aloud and slowly, and try to consider "The Nightingale" in
light of the poems as a whole. For Discussion: Anne
Finch, "The Nightingale." Question #1: Do you find this poems
more interesting to read as a transcription of an actual moment of
inspiration, or as a re-staging (re-presentation) of such a moment?
Question #2: The poem ends with a familiar attack on (presumably)
male critics, but this ending is actually an analogy. To what is the
relation of the poet and the critic analogous? How does this analogy stack
up in relation to "The Bird and The Arras?"
Sept 12: How Does Creativity Work? Read Aloud: please reread
through all of the poems by Anne
Finch, aloud and slowly, and try to consider "A Nocturnal Reverie" in
light of the poems as a whole. For Discussion: "A Nocturnal
Reverie." Question: Does the first 2/3 of the poem "Nocturnal
Reverie" use the list of details as a kind of argumentation? What is the
function of these lines? You may wish to focus on the movement and
trajectory of these lines. To where does this poem travel? PARAGRAPH
Sept 15: Critical Forum. Read the two articles on Anne Finch in the
coursepack. Write a summary of no more than 200 words on the
article that you prefer and be prepared to explain why you prefer it.
Hint: "It was easier to understand" is probably not a good enough reason.
Sept 17: For Discussion: Alexander Pope, An Essay
on Criticism (first half). PARAGRAPH DUE H-N
Sept 19: Reading: Martha Woodmansee, "Genius and the Copyright."
For Discussion: Finish Alexander Pope, An Essay
on Criticism. PARAGRAPH DUE O-Z
Sept 22: Reading: Paul Shepheard, The Cultivated Wilderness; Or,
What is Landscape? (1997). Please read the first half. PARAGRAPH
Sept 24: Finish The Cultivated Wilderness. PARAGRAPH DUE H-N
Sept 26: Reading: Vincent Caretta, "Anne and Elizabeth: The Poet as
Historian in Windsor Forest." For Discussion: Alexander Pope,
"Windsor Forest." PARAGRAPH DUE O-Z
Sept 29: Topography and Caricature, or Locating Satire in Degree and in
the Detail. Read Aloud: Please read the extract from Homer in the
coursepack and Pope's translation of the same passage. For
Discussion: Alexander Pope, The Rape
the Lock (Cantos 1-2).
Oct 1: Civil and Uncivil Landscapes. For Discussion: Finish
Alexander Pope, The Rape
Oct 3: Grub Street at Landscape. For Discussion: Alexander Pope,
to Dr. Arbuthnot."
Oct 6: Pope and Gender Again. Reading and Discussion: Alexander
Oct 8: Reading and Discussion: Finish Eloisa to
Oct 10: Paper
Oct 13: Fall Break
Oct 15: Reading: All the poems by Thomas
Gray. John Barrell, "The Idea of Landscape in the Eighteenth Century."
For Discussion: "Ode to
Spring," "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College." ARTICLE
Oct 17: Reading: Richard Sha, "Gray's Political Elegy." For
Written in a Country Churchyard."
Oct 20: Reading: Linda Zionkowski, "Bridging the Gulf Between:
The Poet and the Audience in the Work of Gray." For Discussion: "Elegy
Written in a Country Churchyard." Begin Discussing Thomas Gray, "The
Bard." ARTICLE SUMMARY DUE.
Oct 22: Reading: John Dixon Hunt, "The Landscape of The Bard.
"For Discussion: "The
Oct 24: Paper
Oct 27: Reading: John Lucas, "Goldsmith and the Ambiguities of
Patriotism." For Discussion: the first half of Oliver Goldsmith,
Oct 29: Reading: John Barrell, "The Landscape of Agricultural
Improvement." For Discussion: The Barrell and the second half of
Oliver Goldsmith, The
Oct 31: Hauntings and Solitude: The Ballad Revival. Reading: William
Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge, "Advertisement" to Lyrical Ballads
(1798; in coursepack); Samuel
Coleridge, "The Ryme of the Ancient Mariner"
(in Dover ed.); William
Wordsworth, "Simon Lee" (in Dover ed.) and "Goody Blake and Harry
Gill" (in coursepack). For Discussion: Mary
"The Haunted Beach" (in coursepack) and any of the poems under
Nov 3: The Sonnet Revival. Reading: Stuart Curran, "The
Sonnet." For Discussion: sonnets by Charlotte
Smith, and William
Wordsworth, "Sonnet on Seeing Miss Helen Maria Williams Weep at a Tale
of Distress." ARTICLE SUMMARY DUE.
Nov 5: The Sonnet Revival, Part II. Reading: Read M. H. Abrams,
"English Romanticism: The Spirit of the Age." Finish reading the sonnets
in the coursepack. This is a selection of the sonnet sequence that
Wordsworth wrote between 1798 and 1807 entitled "Sonnets Dedicated to
Liberty". For Discussion: "Sonnet on Westminster Bridge," and any
others you choose.
Nov 7: The Sonnet Revival, Part III. Reading: Read the introductory
essay on Percy Shelley in the coursepack. For Discussion: "To
Wordsworth," "Ozymandius," "England in 1819." (coursepack)
Nov 10: Reading: M. H. Abrams, "Structure and Style of the Greater
Romantic Lyric" (coursepack). For Discussion: William Wordsworth,
"Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey" (in Dover ed.) ARTICLE
Nov 12: Reading: Read all the poems by Samuel
Coleridge in the The Rime of the Ancient Mariner that we haven't yet
read. For Discussion: "This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison" or "Frost at
Midnight." Question: Does it surprise you that Coleridge wrote
poems like "Kubla Khan" and "Christabel" at the same time that he wrote
the two poems for discussion today? Look at "Kubla": what does it have in
common with "Lime-Tree" or "Frost"?
Nov 14: Romantic Odes Revisited. Reading: Read all of the Percy Shelley
poems in the bulkpack twice. For Discussion: "Ode to the West Wind"
or "Mont Blanc".
Nov 17: Romantic Odes Revisited. Reading: Read all of the John Keats odes in
the Selected Poems twice: "Psyche," "Melancholy," "Grecian Urn,"
"Nightingale," "To Autumn." Read Stuart Curran, "The Hymn and the Ode" (in
coursepack). For Discussion: "Ode to a Nightingale". ARTICLE
Nov 19: Reading: Raymond Williams, "Introduction" to John Clare:
Selected Poetry and Prose. We will spend three class periods on
Per class, we will discuss one or two poems in depth. I strongly
recommend, however, that you simply read the Selected Poems cover to
cover, dipping in as you wish, and moving on if a poem does not please
you. Raymond Williams is perhaps the most important materialist critic
working in England in the last 40 years; his introduction is excellent.
The edition is littered with short prose passages (in 'quotations marks'
in the table of contents) written by Clare that are very entertaining as
well, and will give you a huge amount of insight into this fascinating
poet. For Discussion: "The Mores," "The Lament of Swordy Well."
Nov 21: Reading: Continue to read through John Clare: Selected
Poetry and Prose. For Discussion: The poems from Wednesday, and
Nov 24-26: Clare cluster #2: "The Thrushes Nest," "The Pettichaps Nest,"
"The Mouse's Nest," "The Badger," "The Fox." We will discuss the poems you
wish. All of these poems are superb, and to an extent speak to one
another. If you think that you want to write a paper on Clare's work, I
strongly advise that you read through all of the nest poems. They are
short, and fascinating. Long Essay Due.
Nov 27: Thanksgiving
Dec 1-8: For the last four classes we will read from Christina Rossetti's
poetry. I've extracted a good amount and have placed it at the end of the
coursepack. On December 1 and 3, we will discuss "Goblin Market" in
relation to John Keats's "To Autumn." On December 3, we'll finish "Goblin
Market," so be prepared to say what poems you want to discuss for December
5 and 8. This means that you should, for December 3, dip into the Rossetti
at your leisure.
PORTFOLIO DUE DECEMBER 12TH AT 4:00 PM AT MY OFFICE.
You are required to have an electronic mail account: I do not
require you to use the world wide web, or any of the internet, but an
electronic mail account--and checking it at least a couple of times a
week--is required. Until you send an electronic mail message to
me, I will not consider you registered for the class, and I will
drop those of you on the course lists who do not get electronic mail
accounts. I do this because I will use electronic mail as my chief way of
making course announcements, sending out reminders, and communicating with
Also, this course will have an electronic mailing list (known as a
listserver) that will have all of our names on it. If you send a message
your message will go to everyone in the class. This way, you will be able
to do many things: 1) conduct discussions outside of class, 2) ask for
information on what we did in class if you miss a meeting, 3) test paper
ideas out on each other, 4) brainstorm regarding the final exam, etc. On
the first day of class, I will, as part of our first assignment, get those
of you who know about e-mail to take twenty minutes to teach those of you
who don't know about e-mail how to use it. Michael and I are more than
willing to set up group appointments with you in order to teach you how to
use this technology--so if you feel lost, you simply need to say so.
- 1. To send a message to the class listserver: "mail" a message to:
email@example.com. When you send a message to this address,
the entire class will be able to read it and respond to it.
- 2. To reply to a message that has been sent to you via the class
listserver: make sure that you hit "g" (it stands for "group reply") if
you want to send your reply to the entire class. Hit "r" (for "reply") if
you only want to reply to the person who sent the message. The best thing
to do is double-check whom you are sending it to.
- 3. To get to my teaching homepage using Netscape: Simply select the
"Open" icon, and then type in my address:
Attendance: As this is a 50-minute class, please show up on time
or even early. Regarding Absences: since I know that disasters happen
unexpectedly during the semester, I allow you three absences.
Therefore, please do NOT explain to me why you miss class unless it
involves a major illness that you can document. Since there's no such
thing in this class as an "excused" absence, I don't want to know why you
miss class; these two absences are your business. Missing more than two
classes is equally your business, but it will significantly lower your
grade, since it will inhibit your ability to contribute significantly to
our discussions. You should count on 3-4 absences lowering your grade by
1/3 (B to B-, for example), 5-6 by 2/3 (B to C+), 7-8 by one full grade (B
to C), etc. More than 10 will constitute failing the course.
Participation: This class will conduct itself as a discussion
rather than a lecture. I say this now because I do not want anyone taking
this class to expect it to be a lecture class. I do sometimes lecture for
5-15 minute stretches, but the bulk of our time will be spent in real
discussion, and the topics of our discussion will be determined as much by
your intellectual interests as by my own. This means that you should
expect class periods to be intense and often fun--a place to test out your
own ideas about what we're reading. You can expect me to come in every
class with 50 minutes of my own agenda planned; in turn, I will expect the
25 of you to have at least 25 minutes of questions, observations, and
discoveries about the reading. Students who do not participate in our
discussions will most likely see their final grade go down; the four or
five students who end up carrying much of the burden of discussion will
probably see their hard work reflected in their grade as well.
IF YOU ARE SHY, HERE'S WHAT TO DO: Simply bring in one question
that you want to ask the rest of us AND ASK IT--and you should, when
possible, choose interpretive questions ("I don't understand how these two
passages can be part of the same poem") rather than factual questions
("When did Robinson write this?") In particular, I urge you to pay
special attention to those points where you don't understand something in
the reading--where you've tried to find out the answer for yourself and
failed--because they are the most important for the class.
Reading and Writing Assignments: As this course is a
lower-level, introductory course, I am assuming that you have little or no
experience in reading poetry. Consequently, the reading load for this
course is relatively light (usually under 6 hours per week), and the
writing load for this course is relatively heavy (several one-paragraph
article summaries, four short one-paragraph discussion "instigators," five
listserv responses, two short essays, and a longer essay with an annotated
bibliography attached to it). Instructions concerning all of these
assignments are below.
GRADED WORK FOR THIS COURSE:
Your grade will be determined by three components: the quality of your
in-class performance (including the article summaries, the paragraphs, and
the listserver responses, 25% of your grade), your performance on the
final exam 25% of your grade), and the quality of the portfolio of work
that you hand in at the end of the semester (50% of grade). These various
assignments are listed and described below:
- 1) The Four "Instigator" Paragraphs (10% of grade). These
should be no more than 150 words, i.e. 1/2 a page single spaced at the
most. Four times during the semester, I will ask you to write a paragraph
that is intended to instigate discussion. I will grade these based on
their ability to instigate discussion. The way these will work is that
you will bring your "instigator" into class on that day. On any given
day, we will likely have 7-8 students bringing in these paragraphs and
reading them aloud. These paragraphs should be straight to the point,
without introductory material, and in your speaking ("I") voice. You
should see these paragraphs as significant opportunities for you to
determine the agenda of the class. THEREFORE, YOUR PARAGRAPHS SHOULD BE
ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO FOCUS ON IN THE CLASS PERIOD, AND WHY. The
paragraph should be in your speaking voice and i) point us to a specific
part of a specific poem (at most two passages), ii) challenge us by asking
a question or by proposing an idea for discussion, iii) make clear what
you want to accomplish by discussing this--what will we be able to figure
out if we approach the text for discussion in your way? PLEASE DESIGN
THESE TO BE SPOKEN ALOUD. I will grade them less on the quality of the
prose than on the basis of how well they spur discussion--in other words,
on their intellectual intensity, clarity, and curiosity. Deadlines for
these:You should hand in two of these before fall break, and have done
all of them by Thanksgiving.
- 2) Five responses on the class listserver (10% of grade--at least
150 words in length): In the first eleven weeks of the semester, I
will ask you to participate in the discussion we have on the class
listserver (send all messages to firstname.lastname@example.org). You
may write in when you have something you want to contribute, propose,
respond to, etc., and may do so any time over the semester BEFORE
THANKSGIVING. You may participate as much as you wish--and those who
"carry" the discussion do get A's and A+'s for this part of the
course--but I require that you make at least five entries. Please
do not cram in all of your entries into the last two weeks of November,
since it defeats the purpose of having on-line discussion groups, and
since it will lower your grade on this requirement. At the end of the
semester, I will read through all of the listserv activity and evaluate
your level of engagement, and it will count as 10% of your final grade.
- 3) Five Article Summaries (5% of grade): I intentionally have
chosen some of the most important critics of the last 25 years when I
chose the articles we will read for the course. Consequently, in many
ways they are the most important aspect of the course, in that they will
familiarize you with reading literary criticism, and with the kinds of
issues that lately have dominated scholarly work on British Poetry. As a
way of insuring that you read these articles closely, I have assigned
throughout the semester a number of one-page summaries of the articles we
read for the class. I will simply read through these and check them off
so long as your summary convinces me that you have read the article.
Doing all of these on time is, again, an easy way to get a quick "A" in
the part of the course.
- 4) The Final Exam (25% of grade): This will be split between
an identification section, a short answer section, and an essay question.
It will be open book and open note. The best way to study for this exam
is to have read, by the end of the semester, each of the poems for
discussion several times, and to have marked in your books and bulkpack
every passage that comes up in class. These will be the ones that appear
on the final.
- 5) The Portfolio (50% of grade): You'll be writing papers
during the semester and receiving revision instructions and grade feedback
from me. You'll then revise as needed and hand in your best work at the
end of the semester in a portfolio. Obviously, it should really be the
best, most finished, immaculate work you can do. Each portfolio will
contain the following items:
Short Essay (10% of grade; less than 1500 words; see below for
Longer Essay (20% of grade; more than 2000 words; see below for
instructions), that should address a question of your own choosing, and
will represent the most sustained piece of work for the course. Ideally,
it should treat at least two texts in the course, and whatever outside
materials you have dug up. While you must hand in a prospectus of this
paper during the semester, I also recommend that you come to see me during
my office hours before you begin writing this essay. This essay is worth
20% of your grade.
Annotated Bibliography (20% of grade; see below for instructions) will
be an appendix to the long paper, and must include at least two articles
on the text[s] you have written on for your Longer Essay. It consists of
two summaries and two exploratory essays.
Late Work and Extensions: During the semester, I DO NOT
ACCEPT LATE WORK. If you do not make a deadline, it does not directly
affect your grade; you simply lose that opportunity for me to read your
work and provide you with feedback. For example, if you miss the second
paper deadline, you simply lose that opportunity for me to read your work
and help you with feedback. I do this because I do not want anything to
do with the hassles of students asking for extensions, bringing excuses,
etc. I will only read each paper you write once before the portfolio.
However, I am happy to discuss work in progress with you during my office
hours or by appointment; and will be very happy to talk with you about an
essay that I've commented upon. It is a good idea to bring in a draft
with specific questions about it. It is much more instructive to discuss
specific questions and writing problems in a draft than general, abstract
questions concerning your writing.
Plagiarism: I will report all instances of Plagiarism to the
Office of Student Conduct. If you have any doubts over whether you're
plagiarizing from something, please come see me or the course's WATU