ENGL 343 A: Studies In Poetry

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
SMI 313
Frances McCue

Syllabus Description:

ENGL 343: A Woman in Yellow: Poetry in Community Life 
Autumn 2021
T TH 1:30 - 3:20 PM
Smith 313
5 Credits/VLPA Professor Frances McCue

PLEASE contact me through Canvas, not through email. 

Office Hours: Tuesdays 12 - 1 pm and by appointment via ZOOM: https://washington.zoom.us/j/96365284223 (Links to an external site.)

Please note that this course will have a number of meetings online. I will send you a ZOOM link ahead of time, letting you know when the online sessions will be. 

When 22-year-old Amanda Gorman delivered her stunning poem at the 2021 inauguration, she was drawing from decades of spoken word performances, jazz and blues riffs, and the poetry of Robert Frost, Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou. Gorman’s poem charts a new course for American civic life: a young, exuberant way forward. Her work joins a national conversation about the value of poetry as a public art form. This course will ask the question: "What can poems do?" To explore that, we'll look at different examples of how poetry has entered public venues since 1950. We’ll work on group projects that will might include: the history of Spoken Word, The Beats, Poets Laureate, Digital Participatory Poetics, Outreach programs with vulnerable populations, Poets in Residence and other socially-engaged movements that bring poetry into civic life. Together, we will listen, view, read and discuss poems arising from our research and collaborations about what poems can actually do.

Course Learning Objectives

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Show evidence of analyzing text, image, media through conversation and verbal presentation;
  • Research historical movements in poetry of the last 70 years and create annotated bibliographies;
  • Create written evidence of understanding the structures, metaphoric implications and literal events within poems on the page, stage and in digital spaces.
  • Create descriptions, arguments and inquiries in writing and in conversation.
  • Identify elements of form and craft in poetry.
  • Articulate individual learning.
  • Argue for the study of poetry as a critical and lifelong activity that prepares individuals to engage with a wide range of experiences, information and points of view. 

Outline of Grading Deliverables:

  • Annotated Bibliography of a particular movement/school in American poetry-- a small group effort-- 20 points
  • Presentation on poems from a particular movement (The Beats, Spoken Word, Political Protest Poetry, Outreach etc.)-- 10 points
  • a one-page, single spaced paper (500 words)--10 points
  • Group project that is the equivalent of 35+ total pages of text (delivered in media, script, traditional paper or other format to be negotiated)-- 30 points
  • 5 Reading Quizzes-- 4 points each-- 20 points total
  • Participation-- engaged attendance-- 10 points total

If you require accommodation owing to a disability immediately contact the Disabilities Resources for Students Office (DRS) in Schmitz Hall 448 (206-548-8924; uwdss@u.washington.edu) or the Disabilities Services Office (DSO) at dso@u.washington.eduIt is your responsibility to notify me in writing and in advance of any accommodations to be arranged by either the DSO or DRS office and—should forms be involved—to deliver those to me in person during office hours, with time enough to allow for us to arrive at a mutual understanding of the means by which those accommodations are best met.


Do not plagiarize. Plagiarism includes lifting material from the web, collusion, and the use of sources without citation. If you have any questions regarding what constitutes plagiarism, consult me. All sources must be documented, and papers are to be the result of your own labor.

This syllabus is subject to change. You are responsible for keeping up with any modifications to schedule or assignments.


96+ = 4.0

91-95 = 3.8

85- 90 = 3.2

80-84 = 3.0

75-79 = 2.0

less than 75 = 0

Students are required to follow the University’s COVID-19 Face Covering Policy at all times when on-site at the University, including any posted requirements in specific buildings or spaces. If a student refuses to comply with the policy, the student can be sent home (to an on or off-campus residence). Student Conduct offices are available for consultations on potential violations of student conduct if needed. University personnel who have concerns that a student or group of students are not complying with this policy should speak with their supervisor, a representative of the academic unit, or report it to the Environmental Health & Safety Department (Links to an external site.)

This class is conducted in person. Therefore, unless you meet the criteria for an accommodation from Disability Resources for Students (DRS) or other special arrangement approved by the instructor that allows you to take the course remotely you should only register for this class if you can attend in-person.    


  • Please contact UW Disability Resources for Students (DRS) directly if you feel you may be eligible for an accommodation based on your status as an immune- compromised individual or based on other diagnosed physical or mental health conditions that might prevent you from being able to take classes in-person.  


All UW students are expected to complete their vaccine attestation (Links to an external site.) before arriving on campus and to follow the campus-wide face-covering policy (Links to an external site.) at all times. You are expected to follow state (Links to an external site.)local (Links to an external site.), and UW COVID-19 policies and recommendations (Links to an external site.). If you feel ill, have been exposed to COVID-19, or exhibit possible COVID symptoms, you should not come to class. If you need to temporarily quarantine or isolate per CDC guidance and/or campus policy, you are responsible for notifying your instructors as soon as possible by email. If you have a known exposure to COVID-19 or receive a positive COVID-19 test result, you must report to campus Environmental Health & Safety (Links to an external site.) (EH&S).


All UW community members are required to notify EH&S immediately after:

  • Receiving a positive test for COVID-19

  • Being told by your doctor that they suspect you have COVID-19

  • Learning that you have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19

You can notify the COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team by emailing covidehc@uw.edu or calling 206-616-3344.



Catalog Description: 
Explores the workings and development of poetry and poetic theory. Possible topics may include theories and practices of individual genres (e.g. lyric, epic, romance, verse drama) or subgenres (e.g. the ode, the sonnet, the sestina) and verse forms (regular meter vs. free verse).
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
August 12, 2021 - 9:37am