English 1114: Poetry

Introduction: How to Use This Site

course site - structural analysis - approach

Welcome! This course explores ways of appreciating and analyzing poetry. This site contains all the information you need for the class. Initially, the site can seem a bit overwhelming, yet if you read this page carefully you’ll get a good sense of where to find things.

1114 dates 2019.png

Course Site


Contents lists course components, resources, and all course site pages.


The Outline provides information and requirements — office hours, participation, attendance, grades, etc.


The Schedule contains detailed requirements for each class, for the essays, and for the exams.

Texts: Lyrics & Readings

Lyric Addresses (also marked “LL” in the Schedule) is a list of lyrics to print off. Texts marked “R” in the Schedule are in Readings: Week 2-45-68-1011-13. PDFs: 2-45-68-10 PDF11-13.


For some of the topics, there are special worksheets (for example, WS Hamlet or WS Lemonade), some of which contain required readings (which will be indicated in the Schedule).

Higher Learning

This page explains the nature of post-secondary English courses: to increase writing skills, analytical skills, original argument, and highlights the standard academic essay format.

Essay Structure & Essays

Essay Structure contains explanations of the basic structure you must use for all your essays, and Essays contains samples of the type of writing I hope to see from you. I suggest returning to these pages before handing in a paper or doing an exam. Pay attention to things such as how to connect thesis statements to topic sentences, how to integrate quotes, and how to make arguments rather than observations or assertions.


Before writing your first essay, look at the section on quotes and italics. After getting a paper back you may need to consult the marking abbreviations.


STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS (separate section)

This section provides examples of how to write about literature, music, and audio-visual media.

How to Write About Literature: Six Categories

Contents - Preface - 1: Space - 2: Time - 3: Character - 4: Relationship - 5: Theme - The Mermaid (sample analysis) - 6: Style - Style Exercises

Poets generally use a variety of poetic techniques in one poem, and often the verbal density is so great that it’s difficult to know where to begin. This is where the six categories come in useful: by focusing on one category, you can analyze the poem’s structure in terms of a particular aspect or poetic strategy.


Because we’ll be analyzing many song lyrics, I’ve included pages on Music Description and on Music Terms A - L and Music Terms M - Z.

Analyzing Audio-Visual

Because we’ll also looking at poetry in multi-media forms, I’ve included several pages on audio-visual analysis — focusing on a clip from Moulin Rouge!, the opening credits for Mad Men and Lord of War, and a longer clip from Gandhi.


This page contains samples of boardwork from previous classes — containing graphics alongside thesis statements. These examples should help you to come up with creative visualizations and to formulate your own thesis statements. Here is an example on two WWI poems by Wilfred Owen:

boardwork sample for intro.jpg


In this first-year class I use a variety of critical perspectives, such as history, gender, and genre (especially music and drama). The historical and biographical context of the poem is of course extremely important, yet we’ll focus most of our attention on close reading — that is, on analysis that explores the structure of the text and comes up with arguments about how the structure works.

The following illustrates my emphasis in this class:

(Authorial Intention)       (Postmodernism)

Biography Reader Response Gender

Geography History

Textual Analysis


Structural Analysis

Genre Music Drama

Explication de texte*  Structuralism

(Deconstruction)       (Post-structuralism)

In general, avoid approaches that take you away from the text itself, and avoid padding your essay with biographical and historical information. Unless you show why outside context is crucial to your interpretation of the text, it’s better to leave it out and get to your own argument about the text itself.

* “explication often involves a line-by-line or episode-by-episode commentary on what is going on in a text. While initially this might seem reasonably innocuous, explication de texte, and explication per se, is an interpretative process where the resulting new knowledge, new insights or new meanings, are open to subsequent debate and disaffirmation by others” (“Explication,” Wikipedia).


Back to top

Introduction - Contents - Outline

SCHEDULE: Week 1-7 - Week 8-14

READINGS PDF: 2-4 - 5-6 - 8-10 - 11-13