Courses

Every semester the Georgetown English department offers numerous courses that foster students’ exploration of poetics, including courses taught by the Lannan Committee members, Lannan Director and Lannan Chair of Poetics.


Fall 2017

Lower-Level Electives

Poetry: 1600-2000 | ENGL-102
Duncan Wu
This course will examine poetry by a range of writers between 1600 and 2000, including Shakespeare, Dryden, Pope, Browning, Tennyson, Yeats and Eliot, as well as many others. The emphasis throughout will be on close analysis of text, and group discussion in which everyone is expected to participate. The aim will be to enable students to analyze verse with a full understanding not just of its meaning but of the formal elements of prosody. A principal course text will be Philip Hobsbaum’s Meter, Rhythm and Verse Form (Routledge), which students are expected to read and memorize. Students should be prepared to write regular short essays on aspects of poetry. Each essay will contribute to your overall assessment, as will your attendance record and performance in class. Students are expected also to attend one-to-one tutorials with Professor Wu in order to discuss their work. There will be occasional tests. These activities will contribute to each student’s final grade.

19C British Poetry | ENGL-144 
John Pfordresher
Using small, paperback editions, we will carefully read major poems by William Wordsworth, John Keats, Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Class sessions will be discussions of specific texts considered with care. We will be attentive to poems as poems, to their forms, rhythms, sonic music. We will situate them within their historical moment, while at the same time exploring how each writer works within the rich and complex history of European poetic tradition. Students will post discussion questions and topics for each session. They will write short essays in analysis and research for each writer considered. Several times during the semester students will try their hands at writing their own poems adopting the kinds of poetic forms being used by our authors so as to have a brief experience in the kinds of challenges our writers face. Throughout the semester it will be our aim to consider how writing can create moments of thought filled feeling and to discuss why this is important in lived human experience. 

Mod & Cont Poems & Poetics | ENGL-164 
David Gewanter
In this course, we’ll discuss and study terrific Modern and contemporary poems, and contend with some poets’ essays that (seemingly) advocate for such poems. Breakthrough Modernist poems have helped establish our sense of the world; we now drift through a murky era named “the Post Modern.” This course will test poems against their poets’ claims, and against our own, developed readings of poems. We may briefly consider some Romantic poems, then study the titanic Moderns—Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore, TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, WC Williams, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, and others; then we’ll follow several of the outwardly spiraling clusters of significant poets since then. You need not be very experienced in reading poems; you may even find poems difficult, murky, or bewildering. I only ask, be ready to jump in! Text: Ramazani & Ellmann’s Norton Anthology of Modern & Contemporary Poetry (both volumes), and some short single books of poems. We’ll attend some of our Lannan poetry readings as well. 

Native American Lit | ENGL-209 
Lisbeth Fuisz
This course introduces students to a range of twentieth-century texts – poems, novel, memoirs, and scholarship – by canonical Native American writers such as Zitkala-Sâ, Linda Hogan, Louise Erdrich, D’Arcy McNickle, James Welch, and M. Scott Momaday. In their work, these writers grapple with the rich, complicated histories and traditions that have emerged from colonization, the contact between indigenous nations and the U.S. We will explore how these representative writers express individual and tribal identities, revise stereotypes and contest colonization. For example, we will analyze how these authors reframe stories of victimization as narratives of survivance and strength. While respecting the specific cultural context of each writer and the demands of the literary genre of each text, this course will identify shared thematic concerns and literary strategies. To help us better appreciate the cultural work these texts do, we will also read native scholarship and work by non-native scholars on historical and cultural issues relevant to the texts such as forced removal, Indian boarding school programs, and sovereignty. The course will end with an investigation of recent controversies over the representation and appropriation of indigenous images in popular media by performers such as Drew Barrymore and Gwen Stefani.

Intro to Creative Writing | ENGL-280 
David Gewanter
In this course, we’ll study and produce four genres of creative writing: poetry, fiction, personal prose, and dialogue. We will explore and discuss great models of each of these forms; we will try our hand at composing our own poems, stories, personal essays, and dialogue (for radio); and we’ll write short analyses on our texts. We’ll also hear craft lectures from the great writers in our Department who produce these works. The authors under study include Semezdin Mehmedinovic, Stephen Crane, D.H. Lawrence, Michael Ondaatje, Anna Deavere Smith, and a number of poets. We’ll follow Ondaatje through the genres. Our course is designed for those who have some experience in studying and writing in at least one of these genres. Please be prepared for intensive research in how each form of writing happens, how it renders human experience, voice, plot, statement, vision, and more. Be prepared both to produce your own texts, and to share your draft work with others.

Washington Confidential | ENGL-299 
Maureen Corrigan
Washington, D.C., the nation’s center of politics and government, attracts many of the best and the brightest, people who come here for a time to “brand” themselves through press conferences, photo ops and tweets that demonstrate proximity to power. But is also a place where real people live, as did their forebears, and where history’s ghosts dwell. This course explores how some of the premier writers and journalists of the last 150 years have read the capital city. Why do novelists, poets and filmmakers portray Washington the way they do? It is a place that engenders fiction that masquerades as non-fiction and vice versa. Roman a clefs and anonymous sources abound. Do journalists in this town approach the exercise of power – played out in the corridors and back rooms of deal making - fundamentally differently than novelists? What is it about this city that lends itself more readily to being immortalized by journalists than novelists and poets? How is Washington politics and the powerbrokers who practice it represented in literature and journalism? How are the butlers, the nannies, the refugees, the undocumented, the ghostwriters, the maître ds, the body men, the interns – those behind the scenes and on the margins – used in literature and journalism to tell stories? How is Washington as a character itself portrayed in these various genres? 

Upper-level electives 

Keats and Byron | ENGL-358
Duncan Wu
This will be a rigorous, demanding course that will focus on the poetry and non-fiction prose of two second generation British Romantic poets: Byron and Keats. The emphasis throughout will be on disciplined, close analysis of text, and group discussion in which everyone is expected to participate. The elements of prosody are essential elements to our study, and all members of the class will be expected to memorize them. Students should be prepared to write regular short essays on aspects of the poetry. Each essay will contribute to your overall assessment, as will your attendance record and performance in class. Students are expected to attend one-to-one tutorials with Professor Wu in order to discuss their written work. There will be occasional tests on technical aspects of prosody. All these various activities will contribute to each student’s final grade.