Policies & Syllabus

 Revised Weekly Schedule is in BLUE (Nov 6, 2012): 

Introduction to Literature: Poetry


Course Policy and Syllabus for ENG 2003

Section: 1236

Time: Wednesday 6 – 8:30

Place: Namm 403

Instructor: Professor Sean Scanlan

Email: sscanlan@citytech.cuny.edu

Mailbox: Namm 512

Office Hours: Tues 3:00 – 4:00, Wed 4:00 – 5:00, and by appointment

Office: Namm 520, (718) 260-5123

Course Website: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/scanlanpoetryeng2003/


   “Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular.”

-Aristotle, Greek philosopher, 384-322 BC


“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”

-Robert Frost, American poet, 1874-1963


“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”

-Emily Dickinson, American poet, 1830-1886

 THE GOAL OF THIS COURSE is three-fold. First, we will learn to read many types of poetry, from popular poetry to avant-garde poetry, from Victorian poetry to brand-new poetry. Second, we will study poetic language and poetic forms so that we can understand how poems work to produce meaning. Third, we will practice writing about poems, a practice that will not only help us to think deeply about the poems themselves, but also, help us to improve our critical writing and thinking skills—skills that are portable across academic lines to all other subjects and disciplines.

In order to achieve these goals we will focus on three broad subjects of poems as a way to manage all the different types and voices: American poetry, New York poems, and comic poems.

What will we do in class and for homework? Simply put, we will read a lot. Just as a marathon runner has to put in long hours to develop the muscles necessary to finish 26.2 miles, the student of poetry must practice reading many poems in order to develop reading skills (muscles) enabling comprehension, appreciation, and even pleasure. Reading slowly, carefully, and with accuracy will help us to write critical essays about poems and poets. Most of our writing will be in the form of journals submitted to our OpenLab course website. Our journals will be a sort of public forum—they will help us engage with the wider world and also help prepare us to write two essays: explication and analysis.

Why poetry? Poetry may help some people escape the stress and strain of modern life, and poetry may help others understand and engage with the world’s stress and strain. The famous Romantic English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley said that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” For Shelley, poetry should be an integral part of government, authority, and daily life. During this semester, we will take up Shelley’s  ideas and ask to two further questions: to what degree is poetry necessary for living? and to what degree is poetry just as complex, messy, and real as the streets of Brooklyn?



You must buy the following three books.

1. Title: 101 Great American Poems

Publisher: Dover, 1998

ISBN 13: 978-0-486-40158-4

Cost: $2.00

Available at the City Tech Bookstore


2. Title:  Poems of New York

Edited by: Elizabeth Schmidt

Publisher: Everyman, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0-375-41504-3

Cost: $13.50

Available new at www.randomhouse.com/everymans, or new/used at Amazon.com


3. Title: Comic Poems

Edited by: Peter Washington

Publisher: Everyman, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0-375-41354-4

Cost: $13.50

Available new at www.randomhouse.com/everymans, or new/used at Amazon.com



Explication Essay: 3-4 typed pages that elucidate, or unfold, one poem in a line-by-line, or word-by-word method. The goal in this essay is not only to explore the poem’s overarching meaning, but rather how it works to deliver meaning. (15%)

Analytical Essay: 4 typed pages, based on a close reading of two or more of the poems. Especially important for this paper is the lens or theory that you use for the comparison. (15%)

2 Reading Quizzes: based on our readings and class notes. (10%)

8 Reading Journals: 1-2 typed pages each. (20%)

Class Participation: Students are expected to engage with class material and present ideas and questions in a thoughtful, academic way. (15%)

Poetry Anthology: An introduction (2 pages) to a collection of 5-10 poems that we have read during the semester and that form your favorites. (10%)

Final Exam: December 18, in-class, cumulative (15%)


Other Materials: Bring to class one sturdy notebook with paper for notes and at least one folder with pockets for handouts/assignments. Both spiral-bound or 3-ring are acceptable. You must devise a system to record, store, and organize the course materials. It is very important that you save all of your work for this class. Devise a filing system that allows you to maintain prior drafts and final copies of all major assignments, as well as your notes, outlines, and written evaluations. Save all final drafts of assignments on a stable format such as a flash drive or on a remote hard drive/server such as iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Docs. Never throw away or delete drafts or notes until after you have received your final grade. Computer/Printer malfunctions are not viable excuses for late or lost work.


Grading: For a 3-hour course, 6 hours of out of class preparation/study time per week on average is expected. Completing all the required elements in good order and form constitutes the average, or a C. To raise your grade above this average, you will need to invest your time, talents, and energies to add insightful commentary, sound argumentative reasoning, and show initiative in your approach to scholarship. I recommend that you make an appointment to see me if you receive a grade of C- or lower.


There will be times when your expectations and my evaluation do not match. I am always willing to explain my comments on your assignments, and to discuss ways in which your work might benefit from additional effort. Lower grades most often result from misunderstanding the assignment goals, and from insufficiently realized or poor executions of these goals. I do not grade beliefs or values. If you are unhappy with a grade, or unsure as to why you received such a response to your work, please make an appointment to see me.


1. Attendance: Attendance is mandatory in this discussion-based course. Arriving late or leaving early will count as a partial absence. City Tech’s policy states that missing more than two classes will result in a WU grade. I will not grant excused absences since two absences are permitted without penalty. Being absent is not an excuse for missing or late work: you must get notes from a classmate and keep up with the assignments.

2. Late Papers and homework: One full letter grade (10 points) will be deducted for each day that an assignment is late. After 4 days, the assignment grade will be 0.

3. Plagiarism: Is the unauthorized use of another person’s ideas, language, or research as your own, whether intentionally or unintentionally. City Tech does not tolerate plagiarism. Using proper documentation and textual analysis will help you avoid plagiarism. If you have any questions about plagiarism, please ask me. Any cases of plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty will result in a failing grade and appropriate administrative measures. Please familiarize yourself with City Tech’s policies on academic honesty at:

http://www.citytech.cuny.edu/students/images/studenthandbook.pdf (pp. 89-92).

New York City College of Technology Policy on Academic Integrity:

Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions, and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion. The complete text of the College policy on Academic Integrity may be found in the catalog.

4. Be on time: tardiness disrupts the entire class. Come prepared: turn off/silence all gadgets (see page 74 of the student handbook: “The use of cell phones is prohibited in classrooms, labs, the library, all theatres, and any other areas where instruction or an organized function is taking place.”).

5. The Atrium Learning Center: I encourage all students to take advantage of the writing tutors at the Learning Center. This is an excellent recourse for writers of all abilities. ATRIUM LEARNING CENTER: Atrium Building G-18, Director: Judith Rockway, Phone: 718-260-5874. jrockway@citytech.cuny.edu.



First Unit:  What are poems and how do they work?

Week 1: (Aug 29) Introduction to course. Course Policy, Syllabus, and Learning Outcomes. Course Packet, OpenLab. Theme 1: What is poetry? Homework: course packet readings—and Journal #1 assigned: Scavenger Hunt and “what should I know about this poem?”

Week 2: (Sept 5) Journal #1 Due. Theme 2: How to read a poem. Questions and discussion of poems. In-class writing/freewrite. Concepts of poetry/poetics. Homework: buy  101 Great American Poems, read iii-40, prepare for Quiz 1 over poetry terms and poems.

 Week 3: (Sept 12) QUIZ 1. Theme 3: Denotation/Connotation. Discuss readings and terms. Homework: read 101 G.A.P.  41-80, write Journal #2: applying terms, and find a quote on: http://en.thinkexist.com/quotations/poetry



Week 4: (Sept 19) Journal #2 Due; Theme 4: Imagery. Discuss Popular Poetry. Discuss Explication Essay and terms and examples. Homework: bring Poems of New York to class, write Journal #3: poetry on walls and around town and around your ears.

Second Unit:  Poems of New York

Week 5: (Sept 26—NO CLASS)

Week 6: (Oct 3) Journal #3 Due. Theme 5: Figurative Language and how to write about poetry. What is a New York poem? Discuss findings and ways language affects us. Discuss explication and practice in-class. Homework: write Explication Essay, readings tba.

Week 7: (Oct 10-NO CLASS)

Week 8: (Oct 17) Explication Essay Due. Theme 6: music, rhyme, meter. More New York poems. Homework: write Journal #4, Readings tba.

Week 9: (Oct 24) Journal #4 Due. Theme 6: more music, rhyme, meter. Homework: write Journal #5, Readings tba.

Week 10: (Oct 31) Journal #5 Due. Theme 7: Pattern and structure. Readings: Halloween Poems. Homework: write Journal #6 and make sure to bring Comic Poems to class.

Third Unit: Comic Poems

Week 11:  (Nov 7) Journal #6 Due. Actually Journal 5 due. What is a comic poem? Homework: readings tba, poetry concepts review and prepare for Quiz 2.

Week 12: (Nov 14) QUIZ 2. Journal #6 Due. Discuss Poetry Anthology—what do you like when you say you like a poem? Homework: readings tba, write Journal #7.

Week 13: (Nov 21) Journal #7 Due. Quiz 2 Discuss Analysis Essay details. Homework: work on Poetry Anthology, readings tba.

Week: 14: (Nov 28) Poetry Anthology Due. Discuss Analysis Essay—what is good academic writing? Homework: write Journal #7 and work on Analysis Essay, readings tba.

Week 15: (Dec 5) Journal #7 Due and Analysis Essay Draft Due/peer review. Homework: edit/revise Analysis Essay, readings, tba.

Week 16: (Dec 12) Analysis Essay Due, Final Exam Review, Class Discussion: the future of poetry in America.

Final Exam: Dec 19



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