Option 1 is to write a close reading of an assigned poem from the first five weeks of the course that we have not discussed in depth in class (see list of possible poems below). Paper 1 (whether you choose Option 1 or Option 2) is a close reading, by which I mean a descriptive and argumentative account of a poem that selects a subset of its special characteristics and uses them to make an interpretative claim about the poem. Choices of diction, effects of voice or tone, dynamics of rhythm, complications introduced by a simile or metaphor or a pattern of metaphor, the role of a symbol or image, a bit of syntax or grammar, the way a poem’s argument develops or the way a poem tells a story—these are the sort of particulars you could focus on. You paper should make a claim not about what the poem says but how it creates meaning.
Citation: It is not necessary to consult texts other than those that appear on the syllabus. Should you make use of a biography, a work of literary criticism, or another kind of source in print or online, including handout materials and class notes, even if you don’t quote from that source directly, your paper should make reference to it in a footnote. When in doubt, just ask—and if you’d like to discuss any aspect of the paper further, especially your thesis, I’m here to help! NOTE: Do not, for any paper, consult analyses on the internet; they are especially misleading in the analysis of poetry, and are almost always simple-minded. The websites you will find are as available to me and to your peers as they are to you—clichéd observations from online sources are easy to spot and unethical to reproduce without proper citation. (See the syllabus for course policies regarding plagiarism and academic misconduct.) PAPER 1 Choose one of the following assigned poems to address in your essay: Christopher Smart, “For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry” John Keats, “When I Have Fears” Thomas Hardy, “The Voice” Claude McKay, “America” e.e. cummings, “since feeling is first” Derek Walcott, “Midsummer” Aimee Nezhukumatathil, “Red Ghazal” Adrienne Rich, “Wherever in the city, screens flicker” Harryette Mullen, “Sleeping with the Dictionary”
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