The Contract
Written Work
Other Useful Information


Being Moved: Poetry, Emotion, Stories

Reading texts intensively. Finding scholarly resources beyond the classroom. Bringing research back to the class. Working for excellence in oral and written communication.

English 140 Fall 1996
M-W 8:30-10
1603 Haven Hall

Julie Ellison
4080 Fleming
763-1290 weekdays

Office Hours: by appointment and M 2-4


Required Books

  • All course books available at Shaman Drum only, 315 South State St., upstairs
  • Wordsworth and Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads 1798, 2nd ed. W.J.B. Owen, ed., Oxford
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Selected Poems, Penguin
  • Robert Lowell, Life Studies and For the Union Dead
  • Rita Dove, Thomas and Beulah, Carnegie-Mellon
  • Diane Wakoski, Medea, The Sorceress (Black Sparrow Press)

Recommended Books

  • The Poetry Handbook, 4th ed. Babbette Deutsch
  • The Norton Introduction to Poetry, 4th ed., J. Paul Hunter

Also Required

  • Course Pack at Michigan Document Service
  • South University next to Ulrich's Electronics, between East University and Church


    Weds Sept 4 Introductions, syllabus review, class database, small group formation
    Mon Sept 9 Longfellow, Evangeline, "A Tale of Acadie" and "Part The First," sections 1 and 2 (to p. 17). Read the introduction to the book, as well. Written homework exercise: Pick a section of 10-12 lines, retype them exactly as they are, only omit all prepositions, articles, andconjunctions. Leave spaces where the omitted words appeared. Bring this to class. In class: multimedia version of "Evangeline"
    Weds Sept 11 Fieldwork: Confer instruction in Mason Hall computer center classroom (tentative)
    Mon Sept 16 Fieldwork: Instruction on on-line research materials via digital collections, electronic bibliographies, reference works online, Web searches, MIRLYN. Graduate library computer lab (tentative)
    Weds Sept 18 EvangelineGroups One and Two Presentations
    Mon Sept 23 Evangeline [Yom Kippur] Groups Three and Four Presentations
    Weds Sept 25 Evangeline Group Five Presentation
    Mon Sept 30 Fieldwork: Clements Library next to President's House, focusing on the cultural history of Boston (tentative). Read for today the prose section of Lowell's Life Studies, "91 Revere Street"
    Weds Oct 2 Lowell, "My Last Afternoon with Uncle Devereux Winslow," Group One Presentation
    Mon Oct 7 Lowell, "Skunk Hour"Groups Two and Three Presentations
    Weds Oct 9 Lowell, "For the Union Dead" Groups Four and Five Presentations
    Mon Oct 14 Fieldwork: Special Collections focusing on 19th-century British materials (Rare Book Room) Graduate Library (tentative)
    Weds Oct 16 Wordsworth, "Advertisement" to Lyrical Ballads and "The Female Vagrant" through line 90 (consult notes) Groups One and Two Presentations
    Mon Oct 21 Wordsworth, finish "The Female Vagrant" Group Three Presentation and informal midterm course evaluation
    Weds Oct 23 Wordsworth, compare closely "The Female Vagrant" in the 1798 Lyrical Ballads to the version that appears in the Course Pack.Groups Four and Five Presentations
    Mon Oct 28 Hemans, biographical material and "The Forest Sanctuary" (coursepack) Faculty/Grad Student Roundtable (in classroom) "Research on 19th-Century Women Writers" (tentative)
    Weds Oct 30 Hemans, "The Forest Sanctuary" Group Two Presentation
    Mon Nov 4 Hemans, "The Forest Sanctuary" Groups One and Three Presentations
    Weds Nov 6 Hemans, "The Forest Sanctuary"Groups Four and Five Presentations
    Mon Nov 11 Fieldwork: Bentley Historical Library, Michigan poetry resources, North Campus (tentative)
    Weds Nov 13 Wakoski, Medea, to top of p. 10 Group One Presentation
    Mon Nov 18 Wakoski, Medea, through p. 49 Groups Two and Three Presentations Group topics for final projects, signed by all group members, due today
    Weds Nov 20 Wakoski, Medea, through p. 75 Groups Four and Five Presentations
    Mon Nov 25 Poetry, Translation, Prose Fiction: Baxter, "The Cures for Love" (coursepack) Individual topics for final projects, succinctly stating your argument, due today
    Weds Nov 27 Thanksgiving Break
    Mon Dec 2 Dove, Thomas and Beulah (tba) Conferences with groups scheduled for this week
    Weds Dec 4 Dove, Thomas and Beulah (tba) and course evaluation
    Mon Dec 9 Dove, Thomas and Beulah (tba) and symposium planning Drafts of pp 1-3 of individual papers due today
    Dec 10-17 Extra office hours available by appointment
    December 18 Exam Time. If class members can be free until 11 am, 8-10 amgiving us three hours instead of two, we can use this time slot for the Symposium at which final projects will be presented.


The groups are five-person teams that are the basis for most course assignments, oral and written. Written work will be graded individually. Each group's oral presentations will be given a single grade, which will apply to all members of the group.

There will be two sequences of small group work during the term. The first, which will take us nearly up to Thanksgiving, consists of a rotation of all five groups through five set topics (see chart and list of topics below). Each group will do a presentation in class on each topic, based on collaborative investigations. On the day of the presentation, each group member will hand in a two-page report on the findings they contributed to the group effort. Once our electronic conference is up and running, those reports will be "handed in" by being posted on the conference. In this fashion, other students can refer back to the resources utilized by others in the class.


Each topic should be approached through multiple media. Visual and video images, newspapers and magazines of the appropriate historical period, musical scores and recordings, maps, different editions of the work we are studying--all are welcome. (Just please let me know well in advance if you will need me to reserve audio-visual equipment!) Whenever possible make the material available for the class through downloading on to a disk, photocopying, checking out the book, etc. In a group presentation, everybody should speak about their particular contribution. Your grades will be based in part on your ability to demonstrate that you are mastering the resources and skills introduced in our "fieldwork" excursions (see syllabus).

When this five-topic rotation has been completed, the groups will disband. New groups will form, based on the final project. The final project will also combine group and individual work. Project groups will return to course materials--assigned or unassigned-- in greater depth, reading the works of a particular author or authors that we did not have time to study in class and researching them in greater depth. These new groups will arise from shared interests in a particular theme, a writer or group of writers, a location, a period, or a cultural or critical problem. There will be a schedule of due dates for written project topics, for a synopsis of the argument, for a first draft. Instead of concluding with a final exam, the course will culminate in a mini-conference, or class symposium. At the symposium, to which you may invite other students and faculty, the project groups will give 15-minute presentations, followed by discussion and questions from the audience. Each individual student will submit a polished 6-page critical essay (with footnotes and bibliography) based on their part of the group project.

I will try to make some class time available so that groups can plan their work. But group members will need to be in touch by phone, e-mail, or Confer in order to work effectively together. Furthermore, I strongly advise each group to meet once a week outside class. You should consider this a course requirement. Responsibility for contacting group members and arranging the time and place of your weekly meeting should be rotated among group members. Each person in a group should have a clear individual project related to each topic that contributes to the group endeavor. Some people in the group might work on Web searches, others might visit various library resources looking for primary or secondary materials, others could engage in performances (musical, dramatic, or otherwise). Remember, seek out reference librarians whenever necessary. Make an effort to vary the kind of task you volunteer for--in other words, if you are the group's computer whiz, don't always be the one to do the Web searches; if you are majoring in Art History, don't always be the one to find reproductions of relevant paintings.

If someone is sick and cannot contribute to a group presentation, that person will be responsible for an individual four-page response paper to be handed no more than one week after the missed assignment.

Group Topic Assignments: See Syllabus for Dates


    Group One

    Group Two

    Group Three

    Group Four

    Group Five


    Topic A

    Topic B

    Topic C

    Topic D

    Topic E


    Topic E

    Topic A

    Topic B

    Topic C

    Topic D


    Topic D

    Topic E

    Topic A

    Topic B

    Topic C


    Topic C

    Topic D

    Topic E

    Topic A

    Topic B


    Topic B

    Topic C

    Topic D

    Topic E

    Topic A

A. History

The historical basis of the story, historical figures and events in the story, historical conditions or tendencies important to the narrative or mood, the history of ideas and beliefs important to the poem. Significant events in the year(s) of composition or publication. Look at some newspapers of that period (on microfilm).

B. Authors

Interviews with authors, authors' correspondence and autobiographies, scholarly biographies (preferably recent and well-researched) or entries in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, photographs and paintings of authors, accounts by family members. Or, imagine that you are the poet. Write a preface to one of the poems explaining your motives, goals, difficulties.

C. Form and Style

Stanza type, lines and lineation, syntax, grammar, diction, rhyme, characteristic metaphors, characterization of speaker(s), imagery, tone. Or, write a new episode in an appropriate poetic style to be inserted at a particular point in the poem. Translate any twenty lines of a poem into any language available to you. Or, select a sentence. Rewrite it without lineation, as prose. Rearrange it as a verse line, with different lineation. Change the syntax and grammar of the sentence, trying to preserve its sense. Alternately, find six images in descriptive or metaphoric statements. Replace them with different images and discuss the impact of this experiment.

D. Geography

What can we learn of actual places named or represented in a poem or inhabited or visited by poets? "Geography" refers to the ecological and physical features of the land and climate and also to manmade features, such as transportation systems, cities and towns, agricultural work, manufacture, and so on. You might find a variety of maps of the same place, or create your own map of the poem's locations.

E. The Physical Book

The biography of a printed work: Describe an item in the Bentley Library, Special Collections, or the Clements Library as a physical object: its print, its binding, its size, its paper, its price (if known), its original conditions of production, its advertising (if known), its popularity (if known), type, illustrations, and other physical qualities of the same work. What's different? What's the same? What difference do these qualities make to the reader?

  • Group topics, signed by all group members, due on: Mon Nov 18
  • Individual topics, stating your argument, due on: Mon Nov 25
  • Conferences with groups scheduled for the week of: Mon Dec 2
  • Drafts of pp 1-3 of individual papers due on: Mon Dec 9
  • Extra office hours available by appointment: Dec 10-17


Class attendance is required, including attendance at all "Fieldwork" sessions. This means that more than two unexcused absences will result in grade reduction, which becomes more severe as absences continue. It is possible to fail the course by not showing up. Excused absences are those caused by documented illness and crises in your immediate family. Equipment failures (cars, buses, computers, alarm clocks) do not count. Please let me know in advance via a telephone message, a note, or an E-mail message if you will not be in class.

Please be on time. As soon as I have the final class list, I will have you sign in at the beginning of each class (8:40) and that will constitute the attendance record.

Give yourself plenty of time to prepare reading assignments. Since the class meets on Monday and Wednesdays, try to read the whole week's assignment between Wednesday and Monday. Then you can review the material for Wednesday's class the night before. Students should undertake intensive close reading of the poems. This means read the poem aloud, look up all the words you don't know, take copious notes on the language and meanings of the poems and their relationships to one another, draw on everything you know about history (literary and otherwise), consult The Poetry Handbook and other resources, and shape your confusions into cogent questions.

Tip on focus: We won't be able to deal with every aspect of every poem. As you prepare for class and for group presentations, remind yourself of some of the key themes of the stories these poems tell: love and wandering, placed and displaced families, the landscapes of madness, the suffering and energy of central female figures.

Written Work

On days when written work is due, you are expected both to arrive on time with the written assignment in hand and that day's reading assignment fully prepared. Read the syllabus carefully!

Written work should be typed or printed with a new ribbon. Use your "SpellCheck" program, if you have one, but don't rely on it exclusively. I am always delighted to receive work with hand-written (but legible) corrections on it.

Late papers often result from difficulties that we can prevent if we talk them through in time. If you have feelings of uneasiness about an upcoming paper, call me for an appointment as soon as this mood sets in. Additional writing help is available from the ECB (English Composition Board). Late papers will be penalized by one full letter grade. Extensions at my discretion for documented illness and family emergency only.

You are responsible for keeping a copy of all written work submitted. I live in a swirl of papers and things are easily lost.

Grade Guidelines

In grading, I do not differentiate between the excellence of your prose and the excellence of your ideas so it is impossible to get a good grade for poor writing.

If I detect any instances of plagiarism in your written work, or unacknowledged duplication of your work for other courses, I will actively pursue the college procedures that can end in suspension or expulsion.

Because attendance is required and because the class session is fundamental to the intellectual work of the seminar, it is possible to fail the course on the basis of inadequate attendance alone, regardless of grades on specific assignments.

An "A" or "A-" indicates an exceptional performance on an assignment. I reserve this grade for work of unusual distinction. Not only has the student taken an intellectual risk by thinking independently; also she or he has mastered the material and his/her own thinking by articulating well-conceived ideas in lucid prose. An "A" paper demonstrates that the student has explored the issue in depth, and has given appropriate attention to the stylistic means of expression through which ideas and feelings take on cogent, rich significance.

The "B" range of marks indicates that the student has tackled an interesting and challenging problem and has succeeded in elucidating it well. A "B" is equivalent to "very good," "highly competent." Problems with logic or with expression (including grammar, usage, and spelling) bring the grade down to the "B-" range.

Even outstanding students may well receive some "C" grades. A "C" indicates that a thesis is delineated, but that the argument does not succeed in fully developing the issue. There may be some lapses in logic, indicated by awkward transitions. The analysis is not fully persuasive because there is sparseness of detailed examples and some lack of illustrative demonstration of the major points. The writer does not fully explain why he or she has come to the conclusion expressed. The thesis itself may be too broad, disabling a tightened focus, or it may be weak, not challenging the writer to think deeply about the questions involved. Repetitiveness or redundancy may also be found in the "C" essay, as well as mechanical or formulaic thinking. More serious problems of argumentation, difficulties with sentence structure, or a lack of coherence bring the mark down to a "C-".

A "D" indicates inadequate work. Many of the problems cited for the "C" paper are evident in the "D" paper, but to a greater extent. A paper that has both serious conceptual or organizational problems and serious grammar and usage problems is marked with a "D."


The Hopwood Room is located on the first floor of Angell Hall, immediately through the glass doors to your right as you enter the building. It is the center of creative writing activities at the University and sponsors a famous series of student writing competitions. It also serves tea, coffee, and cookies on Thursday afternoons. Get in the habit of stopping by and browsing through the poetry magazines: these are your major source of recent work by living poets, reviews of poetry books, and interviews with writers.

Terrific poets visit Ann Arbor all the time. For example, on September 14, David Wojahn is reading. On September 15, the Nobel laureate, Derek Walcott, is reading. This is a must for our course. On September 26, another one of the major poets of our day, A.R. Ammons, is reading. On September 27, there will be a performance of a song cycle by Bill Bolcum, U/M's Pulitzer-Prize-winning composer, based on the poetry of the Jane Kenyon. Go to a poetry reading or performance and write up a report for extra credit, posting in on Confer. When you go to a reading, take careful notes so that you can retain your impressions. Be sure to write down the titles of the poems, in case you want to read them later on. In your report you should focus on the character of the poet's performance, the insights gained from the poet's comments on his/her own work, and the qualities of the work itself.


  • Good places to find interviews with poets: American Poetry Review, The Paris Review, Poets and Writers. Good places to find book reviews: Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Poetry Magazine, The Women's Review of Books. Volumes with asterisks include interviews with or commentary by poets.
  • Black Riders, Jerome McGann
  • *Black Women Writers At Work, Claudia Tate
  • *Best Poems of 199-- [an annual collection]
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography (multivolume)
  • *Ecstatic Occasions, Expedient Forms David Lehman, Ed.
  • Feminism and Poetry: Language, Experience, Identity in Women's Writing, Jan Montefiore
  • Free Verse: An Essay on Prosody Charles Hartman
  • A Gift That Cannot Be Refused: The Writing and Publishing of Contemporary
  • American Poetry, Mary Biggs
  • Marjorie Perloff, numerous books on contemporary poetry
  • In Pursuit of Poetry, Robert Hillyer, 1960, esp. Part II, "The Elements of Verse"
  • "Language Sampler, " Paris Review 24.86 (1982) pp. 75-271. On Language
  • poetry.
  • ``Shifting Politics in Bedouin Love Poetry'' Lila Abu-Lughod, in Language and the
  • Politics of Emotion eds. Lutz and Abu-Lughod
  • The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
  • The Rhetoric of the Contemporary Lyric and Style and Authenticity in
  • Postmodern Poetry, Jonathan Holden
  • Shakespeare's Sisters: Feminist Essays on Women Poets Gilbert and Gubar
  • Stealing the Language: The Emergence of Women's Poetry in America, Alicia
  • Suskin Ostriker
  • The L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E Book Charles Bernstein
  • *The Writer on Her Work Vols 1 and 2, Janet Sternberg
  • Toward a New Poetry Diane Wakoski
  • Writing a Woman's Life, Carolyn Heilbrun