ENGL 3342: 001

Tim Morris

American Poetry

Spring 1999 9-9:50 AM Mon/Wed/Fri 211B Ransom Hall

office hours: MTTh 11AM-1PM (206 Carlisle)
W 11AM-noon (206 Carlisle)


office phone: metro 817 272 2739

office mailbox 203 Carlisle Hall

mailing address Box 19035, UTA 76019

to the schedule of readings and assignments

course prerequisites: ENGL 1301, 1302, and six hours of 2000-level English.

required textbooks: Dickinson, Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson; Hollander, Rhymes Reason : A Guide to English Verse; Vitanza, Writing for the World Wide Web; plus significant additional reading for the major-author web-project.

syllabus: this web-page and links constitute the syllabus for the course. The syllabus will be updated continuously, so that by the end of the semester it constitutes a record of what actually happened in the course and can be used as a resource for study for the final exam. However, all the assignments and due dates are already given here, so no work will be added after the semester starts. You are welcome to print off the syllabus at any time and as often as you like.

course description: This course is an introductory major-author course in American poets. It has three components: an introduction to poetics (the technical study of what a poem is and how it works); a study of the 19th-century poet Emily Dickinson; a 5-week seminar session where each student presents an in-depth study of a single major author. This is a computer-mediated course. You need not have any computer experience before taking the course, but you must be willing to get and use an e-mail account, do electronic searches for information, and present your major-author project in the form of a web site that you construct yourself (with ample assistance and time provided)

course objectives: Students who successfully complete this course: will be able to analyze and discuss basic elements of poetic form; will know something about Emily Dickinson and about how to use Dickinson studies as a model for major-author projects on American poet; will have in-depth knowledge of one other major American poet; will know very basic elements of web-site construction using both basic HTML and WYSIWYG web-page editors; will have general knowledge of a canon of American poets on whom other students present seminar projects (the length of that canon will depend on the number of students who complete the projects).

attendance is completely optional until seminar meetings begin on 29 March. I will not schedule out-of-class sessions to tutor students who miss class, however. You will be pretty well lost if you don't come to class. If something prevents you from coming to class and keeping up, you've simply had your semester affected negatively by bad things--or by good personal commitments that you've chosen to place ahead of coursework. From 29 March till 30 April attendance is mandatory; if you miss more than 2 of the seminar meetings scheduled during those five weeks, you will fail the course.

drop policy: drop before final drop date (Fri 16 April) guarantees W for the course; drop after that is against university rules. UTA instructors may not drop students for any reason.

assignments: Two midterm exams (Mon 8 February and Wed 24 March). Seminar website project and presentation. Final exam (Wed 12 May, 8:30-10:30 am).

grading: Grading for each assignment will be on the standard number system: 100-90 is an A, 89-80 is a B, 79-70 is a C, 60-69 is a D and lower is failure. The first midterm (on poetics, 8 Feb) will count 10% of the final grade. The second midterm (on Dickinson, 24 March) will count 20% of the final grade. The seminar web project will count 30% of the final grade, and the accompanying presentation will count 10% of the final grade. The final exam will count 30% of the final grade.

I consider this next point important enough to make here, on the syllabus: I think that a B is a good grade for an undergraduate course, and that a C grade is quite acceptable. The grade of A should indicate excellence rather than mere completion of the course.

academic dishonesty policy: It is the philosophy of The University of Texas at Arlington that academic dishonesty is a completely unacceptable mode of conduct and will not be tolerated in any form. All persons involved in academic dishonesty will be disciplined in accordance with University regulations and procedures. Discipline may include suspension or expulsion from the University. "Scholastic dishonesty includes but is not limited to cheating, plagiarism, collusion, the submission for credit of any work or materials that are attributable in whole or in part to another person, any act designed to give unfair advantage to a student or the attempt to commit such acts." [Regents' Rules and Regulations, Part One, Chapter Vi, Section 3, Subsection 3.2, Subdivision 3.22]

disability policy: The University of Texas at Arlington is on record as being committed to both the spirit and letter of federal equal opportunity legislation; reference Public Law 93112--The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended. With the passage of new federal legislation entitled Americans with Disabilities Act - (ADA), pursuant to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, there is renewed focus on providing this population with the same opportunities enjoyed by all citizens. As a faculty member, I am required by law to provide "reasonable accommodation" to students with disabilities, so as not to discriminate on the basis of that disability. Student responsibility primarily rests with informing faculty at the beginning of the semester and in providing authorized documentation through designated administrative channels.

schedule of assignments and readings

Wed 20 Jan: syllabus, procedures

Fri 22 Jan: COMPUTER DAY. Every Friday from 22 January through 26 March (except for 19 March, Spring Break) is "Computer day"; on Fridays we will talk about skills and techniques for developing websites, and other computer topics central to the on-line study of poetry.

Mon 25 Jan- Wed 3 Feb, Mondays and Wednesdays: poetics. Be sure to read Hollander, Rhymes Reason carefully during these two weeks.

Mon 25 Jan: in-class writing: What is poetry?

Wed 27 Jan: Poetics: an introductory, inductive discussion

Fri 29 Jan: Literary and Library resources on the Web. Among other resources, we will look at OCLC FirstSearch and then at Jack Lynch's Literary Resources.

Mon 1 Feb: Today we will do an inductive tour of some major forms of English poetry, including blank verse (Bryant), lyric (Tennyson, Yeats), syllabic verse (Moore) and free verse (Whitman, TS Eliot, Stevens, Pound, Berryman)

Wed 3 Feb: Continue a tour of major forms, including sonnets (Keats, Millay, Wordsworth), terza rima (Larkin), common meter (nursery rhyme, hymn, Larkin again), blues

Fri 5 Feb: review for Midterm #1; website design: the ordinary, the good and the awful.

Mon 8 Feb: Midterm Exam #1 (poetics)

Wed 10 Feb-Mon 22 March (Mondays and Wednesdays, excluding Spring Break 15-19 March): Emily Dickinson. During these weeks, read through Dickinson's Complete Poems, in no particular order; the purpose of the reading is to become as familiar as possible with Dickinson's language.

Wed 10 Feb: Reading Dickinson: personal exigence

Fri 12 Feb: Creating a Web page in MS Word; using text and HTML displays

Mon 15 Feb: Dickinson: publication issues

Wed 17 Feb: Dickinson: biographical

Fri 19 Feb: specifications for web site projects and schedule for presentations

Mon 22 Feb: How Dickinson's poems look; the 1890s versions versus the digitized manuscripts

Wed 24 Feb: How Dickinson's poems sound: Aaron Copland settings, hymn meter, oral interpretation

Fri 26 Feb: simple manipulation of images using HTML and JPEG or GIF files

Mon 1 March: Understanding Dickinson: "My life had stood a loaded gun"

Wed 3 March: Understanding Dickinson: patterns across poems ("Within my garden," "A Route of Evanescence," &c.)

Fri 5 March: work day; reading files in Netscape

Mon 8 March: Contemporary Poetry: special guest, John Leonard

Wed 10 March: Dickinson in Context: the Arctic

Fri 12 March: work day

Mon 22 March: Review Dickinson

Wed 24 March: Midterm Exam #2 (Dickinson)

Mon 5 April: Edward Taylor (Mario Ezeh); Phillis Wheatley (Michelle Brockington)

Wed 7 April: Ralph Waldo Emerson (Christie Bonham); Edgar Allan Poe (Andrea Sandoval)

No meeting Fri 9 April.

Mon 12 April: Walt Whitman (Geraldina Cobos); Stephen Crane (Corrine Aldert)

Wed 14 April: William Carlos Williams (Rebecca Johnson)

Fri 16 April: last date to drop Marianne Moore (Lauren Jerram); Langston Hughes (Amy Wethington)

Mon 19 April: Claude McKay (Sharon Greene); Elizabeth Bishop (Heather Moore)

Wed 21 April: Gwendolyn Brooks (Leslie Brown); Sylvia Plath (Yolanda Stoker)

Fri 23 April: Anne Sexton (Roy Whitfill); Allen Ginsberg (Michelle Heath)

Mon 26 April: Audre Lorde (Dawn Bien)

Wed 28 April: Maya Angelou (Margaret Dreadin)

Fri 30 April: Rita Dove (Reagan Lister); Simon Ortiz (Margot Smith)

Mon 3 May: review: early & 19th Century (Taylor to Crane). Poem: William Cullen Bryant, "To a Waterfowl" --today's writing prompt: what's the relation among people, non-human "Nature," and God in "To a Waterfowl"?

Wed 5 May: review: early & mid-20th Century (Williams to Brooks). Poem: Wallace Stevens, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" --today's writing prompt: compare Stevens's way of looking at birds to Bryant's in "To a Waterfowl." Not just in terms of birdwatching technique, obviously, but in terms of the moral, spiritual, and psychological insights that each poet draws from his bird of choice.

Fri 7 May: review: later 20th Century (Plath to Ortiz). Poem: Mary Oliver, "Mockingbirds" --today's writing prompt: here's yet another way of looking at birds; I would call it "postmodern" but I'm not sure that means anything except that the "modern" was some time ago. Compare this way of treating the subject "bird" to those of Bryant and Stevens. Course evaluations will be done today, and grades for presentations and seminar projects distributed.

Wed 12 May: 8:30-10:30 AM: Final Exam