I am looking back at some of my favorite courses I had designed and taught throughout the years. Perhaps they will be helpful templates for a few current teachers. Here is the fourth one:
3 Credit Hours 8:00-9:15am Tuesday and Thursday
Students will write focused, insightful analyses of poetry. They will be able to synthesize research in a coherent, well-supported, argumentative essay. Their writing will be complex and grammatically sound and revised.
and authenticity in sources
- This poet’s life and works: your biographical research should focus on events that influenced his or her creative vision and style. Include key events in this poet’s life as you capture the uniqueness of his or her values, beliefs, assumptions, and influences that helped shape his or her thinking and creativity. Note: the majority of the material in this section requires an ample citing of sources.
- An explication of your favorite poem by this poet; thus, follow the directions for literary explications.
- Who is the speaker in the poem?
- Is there an identifiable audience?
- What is the occasion? What might be the poet’s purpose for writing this poem?
- What is the setting?
- What is the tone and mood of the poem and how are they achieved?
- Is there a structure or pattern to the poem? Shakespearean or Petrarchan sonnet? Villanelle? Are the lines iambic, trochaic, dactylic, anapestic? Is there a metrical pattern that serves or reinforces meaning? Any shifts in pattern and emphasis?
- Are there any examples of metaphor, simile, personification, chiasmus, onomatopoeia, oxymoron, synecdoche, metonymy, etc.?
- Are there any examples of paradox, overstatement, understatement (litotes), and irony?
- Is there a shift in point of view or shift in emphasis in the poem?
- Are there any allusions?
- In discussing diction and style, ask why this poet chose these words? Any connotations, anaphora, asyndeton, caesura, etc.?
- In discussing syntax, does the poet use periodic or loose sentences? Parallel structure? Rhetorical questions?
- Is the poem allegorical? Are there any symbols?
- Are there examples of alliteration, assonance, consonance, and repetition?
- What kinds of imagery are used? Is there a pattern?
- Define and analyze every word of the TITLE; pay attention not only to literal meaning but also to CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS as well.
- Define all UNFAMILIAR WORDS within the poem, making note of words that could have MULTIPLE MEANINGS.
- Place brackets around PUNS (play on words), HOMONYMS (words that sound the same but have different spelling and meaning), IMAGES, and SYMBOLS. In the margin, write a few words that explain the meaning of different images and symbols.
- Circle every PRONOUN and write its noun above it. Correct the order of SENTENCE INVERSIONS and paraphrase the lines.
- Write down the theme of the poem. Underline THEME STATEMENTS within the poem. Draw a circle around CHANGES IN ORGANIZATION of the poem. Explain how the organization might be important to that theme.
- At the bottom of the poem, write a summary of the LITERAL LEVEL of the poem’s meaning (what the text actually says). Re-phrase the poem in “plain-talk” English. Write down some thoughts that move BEYOND THE LITERAL LEVEL: what is implied or hidden.
- Try to figure out what SITUATION the person who is narrating the poem is in. (Imagine the external circumstances or the internal state of mind that you would have to be in before you wrote this poem).
- Offer a reasonable interpretation: that INTERPRETATION is best which is SIMPLEST, yet takes into account all the material in the poem. Show the reader the path your mind took from the lines of the poem to the conclusions you reached in your interpretation. In other words, explain fully enough how your mind moved from what you claim the poem says to what you claim the poem means. Every conclusion you make in your interpretation must be SUPPORTABLE and SUPPORTED by passages from the poem itself.