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 2020

Lower-Level Electives

British Romantic Poets I ENGL 148
Duncan Wu
For poetry lovers: a survey of the work of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Byron and Shelley. This is a rigorous, demanding course which will entail a considerable amount of reading outside class time. There will be numerous tests and written exercises that will affect end of term grades.

Modern & Contemporary Poems & Poetics I 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. Your written work will include: explication of texts; short essays; theatre review; (possible) in-class report; some poems composed by you (ungraded).

Studies in History of Poetry I ENGL 222
Duncan Wu
This course examines British poetry between 1900 and 2000, tracing the evolution of what it meant to be British through that turbulent 100-year period. It will be a demanding and rigorous course which will aim to cultivate each student’s powers of intellectual analysis. To that end, it will demand a full understanding of the elements of formal prosody, a scheme deriving from the Classical poets of Greece and Rome, which will be understood and memorized by all members of the class. Our approach to the poetry will be directly through the lives and works of our poets. There will be regular tests.

Intro to Creative Writing I ENGL 280
Mark D. McMorris

This is an introduction to the practice of imaginative writing. The course is divided into three parts, according to the form of the writing. The first part deals with verse and covers the elements of verse composition and a few of its modes: location, syllable, line, sound structure, figure, and the rest. The second part deals with prose: the basic unit of composition is the sentence rather than the verse line. We will try or hand at fabulous documents, multiple points of view, and iterated memories. The third ventures into the domain of visual literature, which seeks to reconcile the disparate systems of the word and the image. Here we will consider the calligramme or pattern poem, the use of the alphabet as a basic element in concrete and visual poetry, and the merging of form, color, and text in narrative space. The main work of the course will be the making of your own imaginative works, which you will circulate for discussion from time to time. In the belief that writing and reading are inseparable, you will also read a range of creative and critical texts, in order to expand your awareness of the possibilities of the written word. The close study of these works is meant to suggest approaches you might take in your own creative projects.

Intro Poetry and Prose Workshop I ENGL 281
David Gewanter
In this workshop, you will read, write, and revise your own poems and short prose pieces, and produce a short manuscript of new work. How to discover what you have to say? We will study a wide variety of published poems, and write and discuss our own poems and quick prose, paying close attention to matters of form, image, figure, rhythm, voice, audience, the “plot,” and more. A poem can offer a bare and radical sense of voice and experience—it’s always a new experiment. This workshop will open you to new writing forms, help you analyze and revise your poems and creative prose, and link you with other writers. Besides writing poems, we will analyze poems from a writer’s perspective; memorize single poems; give a class reading; and meet visiting poets. This workshop is for those who have done some creative writing, or who want, finally, to get started.

Creative Non-Fiction Writing I ENGL 282
Norma Tilden

Students who have successfully completed ENGL 287 should not enroll in this class. An intensive writing workshop focused on discovering, researching and crafting first-person narrative, including memoir, personal and lyric essay, features, travel and nature writing. Readings and writing across the spectrum of this innovative fourth genre. Students should expect to write constantly and to contribute, as critical readers and writers, to the common cause of the workshop.

Intro to Script Writing I ENGL 284
John Glavin

Registration in this class requires Instructor approval. This course is designed to introduce students to the fundamental elements of writing for the large (film) and small (television) screen. It roots in the core precept that plot is character is action. Which means that the first object of study for all dramatic writing must be the examination of character. In workshop exercises, complemented by theoretical models from Keirsey and Greimas, students develop techniques for character analysis and development. At the same time, week by week, they examine character development in iconic films from a wide range of periods and genres. By the end of the term each student will have generated a short (20 minute) film for television and a short (20 minute) film for the wider screen. Students should note that in addition to class meetings during the week, they are also required to attend throughout the term regular film screenings on Sunday afternoons.

Upper-level electives

Gender and Care in Modern US Poetry I ENGL 443
Libbie Rifkin
In this class, we’ll explore modern and contemporary American poetry through the lenses of gender and disability theory, particularly as they center the question of care. We’ll examine the way a range of poets, with and without disabilities, take up critical questions in their work, including: how do we care for one another from childhood through aging? How are our relationships of care charged with the power dynamics of race, class, immigration status, and gender? Does the work of care conflict with or engender creativity in poetry? And how might understanding ourselves through our dependency on others reframe such core American values as independence and rational individualism? Since much of the work of care (both familial and non-familial, unpaid and inadequately paid) has been assigned to women and femme-identified people, they will make up the bulk of our syllabus. We’ll examine the writing lives of selected 20th and 21st century women poets who played significant roles in shaping the literary fields in which they worked, and we’ll think about poetic community as a form of care. Some poets we’ll consider include: Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Audre Lorde, Alice Notley, and Lucille Clifton. We’ll also cull new canons of work from movements and communities such as HIV/AIDS, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and immigration rights. This course participates in the Disability Studies Program event series. Students will attend lectures and performances by renowned disability theorists, advocates, and artists.

Advanced Fiction Manuscript Workshop I ENGL 453
Aminatta Forna
This workshop welcomes experienced creative writers wanting to complete a longer manuscript (novella, novel or short story collection) who would like to engage with a group for a serious and productive response. The workshop will include a close manuscript workshop, advice on style and technique, including use of tense, structure, perspective, person, voice, dialogue and character. We will read selected prose from contemporary and classic works and you will develop the critical skill to understand how narrative is formed, in other words to read like a writer. The workshop format includes guided peer critique of your work so you MUST be ready to share and involve yourself in classroom discussions. There are no assignments other than to progress your writing project by producing new pages and revising work on the basis of classroom discussions. This course is taught by a practising writer, Lannan Director Aminatta Forna, who has published widely in both fiction and non-fiction. Pre-requisites: Applicants must have taken at least one college level creative writing course. Only new work is eligible.
This section is meeting in New North 408.

Experimental Fiction Workshop I ENGL 455
Jennifer Fink
In this advanced writing workshop, we will read key texts of 20th and 21st-century experimental fiction. Using these writings as springboards, we will create our own weekly experiments. The class is student-led, and demands enormous commitment from its members. Expect to read sexually transgressive, politically charged, mixed media works. Expect to expand your notion of what constitutes a text. Expect to exceed your own expectations of your writing.

Intermediate Script Writing I ENGL 456
John Glavin

This course needs instructor approval. All interested students should contact Prof. Glavin ( for further information about the course. Only students who demonstrate aptitude in Film-Making for Writers/Intro to Script Writing may apply for permission to take Intermediate Screenwriting. Intermediate moves from the standard American paradigms for screen story-telling, covered in the introductory course, to disruptive models developed by mid-century European masters (e.g. Fellini, Bergman, the French New Wave) and more recent international auteurs.

Advanced Script Writing I ENGL 457
John Glavin

Registration in this class requires instructor approval All interested students should contact Prof. Glavin ( for further information about the course. An individual tutorial offered to students who have successfully completed Intermediate Screenwriting. The student will complete an original, full-length feature script in a genre and with a story line of the student’s choice.

Hybrid Forms I ENGL 459
Mark D. McMorris

Writing from its beginnings has always transcended the conventional borders of genre. From Egyptian hieroglyphs, ancient Greek pattern poems, Medieval illuminated books to the experimental forms of the 20th-century Avant Garde to reggae Dub Poetry, the mixing of the word with other forms of representation has enjoyed an enduring appeal. In this course we will study and (attempt to) practice the poetics of hybridity, the ways in which verbal art is amplified, invaded, distorted, refashioned, and restaged in the fusion with other arts—the arts of sound and noise, the arts of graphic expression and visuality, the arts of digital media. The course will be run as an experimental workshop and reading group. Works by Johanna Drucker, Susan Howe, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Anne Carson, Emmett Williams, Kurt Schwitters, Apolinnaire, and many others.