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Reading a poem involves nothing more than reading the words in front of you in the order in which they appear. Which means that if you can read, you can read poetry. So why take this subject? The answer requires understanding the word “reading” in a particular sense: as a noun rather than as a verb; not just as something you do, but also as something you create, as in “a reading of a poem.” This subject is designed for students who want to learn how to be better readers in this specialised sense of people who read poems in order to write about them. It takes a step-by-step approach to poetic interpretation, investigating theories and methods of reading alongside poems and poetic practices from ancient Greece and Rome to medieval and early modern Europe through to the present day. Students will be trained in the art of creative reading: they will read some of the best poems ever written, and learn how to invent things to say about them that are not just original and coherent but even true.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of representative examples of poems and poetic forms;
- articulate the relationship between exemplary poems and the social, historical and cultural contexts that produced them;
- apply high-level analysis, conceptual sophistication and critical thinking to the study of poetic texts and their uses;
- contribute to the understanding of poetic texts in ways that engage the interests of the discipline of literary studies;
- effectively communicate an understanding of poetic texts and their contexts in both written and oral formats; and
- have gained an understanding of how to act as critically informed participants within a community of literature scholars, as citizens and in the work force at large.
At the completion of this subject, students should gain the following generic skills:
- acquired a transportable set of interpretative skills;
- developed their capacity for independent research;
- developed their capacity for critical thinking and analysis; and
- developed their ability to communicate in writing.
Last updated: 3 October 2023