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 2019

Lower-Level Electives

19th Century 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. Required texts. William Wordsworth. Selected Poetry. Ed. Gill and Wu. Oxford World’s Classics. John Keats. Selected Poems. Ed. Barnard. Penguin Classics; Revised edition. Alfred Tennyson. Selected Poems. Ed. Ricks. Penguin Classics. Robert Browning. Selected Poems. Ed. Karlin. Penguin Classics. Gerard Manley Hopkins. Selected Poetry. Ed. Phillips. Oxford World’s Classics. 

20th Century Poetry | ENGL 163
Duncan Wu

This course will examine poetry by a range of American writers of the twentieth century. This will be a demanding course that will place emphasis on close analysis and comprehension of text, as well as group discussion in which students are 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. 

Intro to Creative Writing | ENGL 280
Mark 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 | 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 | 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 ­| ENGL 284
John Glavin

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 

Fitzgerald and His Circle | ENGL 402
Maureen Corrigan

The career of F. Scott Fitzgerald — and the decade of “The Roaring Twenties”— started off with a bang in the spring of 1920; indeed, some scholars say that Fitzgerald “invented” the ‘Roaring Twenties with his best-selling debut novel, This Side of Paradise. This Side of Paradise is a college novel based on Fitzgerald’s undergraduate years at Princeton. In it, and in many of the novels and short stories that followed, Fitzgerald largely defined “The Jazz Age” — a phrase that he himself coined. This course examines Fitzgerald’s most important works of the 1920s, as well as many of those of his contemporary friends and mentors such as Ernest Hemingway, Ring Lardner, Dorothy Parker, H.L. Mencken, Gertrude Stein, Edmund Wilson, Dashiell Hammett and Zelda Fitzgerald. The course will also investigate the cultural context of the 1920s—an era marked by Prohibition, The Scopes Trial, The Great Migration, the imposition of immigration quotas, the widespread introduction of the assembly line, the democratization of car ownership, the rise of skyscrapers in American cities, the advent of radio, air travel, and advertising, greater freedom in sexual behavior, and, ultimately, The Great Depression—when the “great national party” came to an abrupt halt. Among the texts we’ll be reading are: This Side of Paradise The Beautiful and Damned The Great Gatsby Selected Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald Selected Short Stories of Ring Lardner The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway Selected Short Stories of John O’Hara The Vintage H.L. Mencken The Portable Dorothy Parker Essays and Reviews by Edmund Wilson The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein Selected Writings of Zelda Fitzgerald Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vaill Terrible Honesty by Ann Douglas.

Gender and Care in Modern U.S. Poetry | 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 Poetry and Short Prose Workshop | ENGL 451
David Gewanter

This workshop will help you write a portfolio of poems and/or short prose pieces. In class we’ll read and discuss poems, creative essays, and short fiction intensely; work over the drafts of our own poems and prose; write critiques of published works; study and steal the forms of poems, and the maneuvers of creative prose. We’ll give and receive helpful criticism of our work in a group setting, and in conferences with the professor. This workshop offers you a chance to develop the early promise and challenge of your poems and prose, and to build a longer manuscript. Prerequisites: one college-level course in creative writing (any genre), or an equivalent background, or a passion for writing. Permission of instructor required. 

Intermediate Script Writing | ENGL 456
John Glavin

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 | 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.