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Sound, it has been said, is the poem's heartbeat. It's an apt metaphor. The sound of poetry gives it life, and transforms it from mere symbols on a page to music that touches the human emotions in ways that we can barely understand. It's so powerful, in fact, that poets and scholars have spent centuries, through both art and analysis, trying to unravel its mysteries. We're going to join them. Through lecture and discussion and much reading aloud, we'll learn how to scan English versehow to uncover the heartbeat at the core of each poem. We'll also attend to the various ways people have attempted to solve the mystery. Along the way, we'll discover that every reading of a poem, whether silent or spoken, is a performance.
Poetry and supplementary material will be provided.
are advised to obtain a dictionary that divides words into syllables
The weekly exercises are aimed at gradual skills acquisition. (For example, you might do an exercise that asks you to mark stresses and syllables or other aural features in a passage of poetry.)
The oral performance will be the recitation of the poem you analyzed in Essay 1.
Essay 1 will be an analysis of a short poem from a metrical standpoint.
Essay 2 will be an investigation of the metrical practice of a particular poet.
Assignments must be submitted on the day they are due. Late weekly work defeats the purpose, so will not be accepted unless you were absent on the day the discussion took place. A late essay will be accepted only after prior consultation and the setting of a new due date; I reserve the right not to accept a late essay. A missed performance will be treated in the same way.
Attendance is required. A sign-up sheet will circulate daily, and it is your responsibility to sign it. Students who miss more than three classes will lose the 10% participation grade. Students who miss more than six classes will receive an F for the course. Missing fewer than three classes does not guarantee that you will receive the full 10%: participation also involves playing an active role in group discussions and providing regular evidence that you have kept up with your reading, scanning, and thinking.