ENG4427 – Poetry in English

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Course content

Today, traditional verse forms such as couplets, the sonnet, ode, and elegy are joined by newer idioms such as dub poetry and rap. Poetry of all kinds is enjoying a burgeoning of interest and involvement all over the English-speaking world. Poetry is the form of writing that most deliberately cultivates and harnesses the resources of traditional form and collective memory. It is also the literary form people seek when they attend to trauma and disorientation, to the imperatives of celebration and commemoration, and the need to bear witness to the life of the passions and the mind. This course seeks to analyze the ways in which poetry functions, focusing on a syllabus of primary as well as secondary works that will vary from term to term, reflecting the expertise and interests of the convener. Two aims will remain constant: to grasp how poems are achieved through the manipulation of form, and to understand how they reach out to be interpreted in relevant contexts, whether formal, material, historical, social, political, or biographical. The rhetorical purpose of poems will be considered, and students will be encouraged to investigate the documentary evidence of poetry’s impact and reception. The course aims to enable students to master the formal and contextual analysis of poems, and to make serious and sensitive contributions to the academic study of poetry.

Autumn 2020: Syllabus description.

Learning outcome

After completing this course, you:

  • will be able to analyse a wide range of poems in relation to the theoretical issues treated in the textbook material and the seminar discussions
  • will have an understanding of the main theoretical questions and debates underpinning the practice of academic poetry criticism
  • will be able to analyse poetic techniques in various kinds of poetic texts
  • will be able to relate literary works to their sociohistorical context in nuanced and sophisticated ways
  • will have advanced skills in scholarly writing in English.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Seminars, 2 hours per week for 10 weeks. 20 hours in all.

Obligatory activity:

  • A draft of the term paper turned in by a stated deadline.Read more about rules concerning valid excuses and how to apply for approved absences or postponements here.
  • For autumn 2020, attendance is not required, but highly recommended.

All obligatory activities must be approved for you to sit the exam. All obligatory activities must be approved in the same semester. Once the course requirements have been fulfilled, they remain valid for the current and the next two semesters that the course is taught.


The form of assessment is a term paper of 10 standard pages (a standard page consists of 2,300 characters). References and bibliography comes in addition.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The exam is to be written in English

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Autumn 2020

For the autumn semester 2020, this course will have manual admission.

Contact the study administration for more information.


This course is taught irregularly.


The exam is offered in the same semester as the course is taught.

Teaching language