Welcome to Spring 2023!

9:40-10:55, Tuesday/Thursday, Goldwin Smith 181
Didi Chang-Park (she/her)
[email protected], KG53

COML 1134: Reading Poetry (FWS) #

In this section of Reading Poetry, we explore the range of associations that reading and writing about poetry engenders by working with poems in various genres, such as the sonnet, the haiku, and the prose poem. The course will take us through a range of poems from the early modern period to the present, with a focus on western and anglophone poetry, though students are encouraged to read and write about poems in other languages and from other world traditions. In broad strokes, you will learn to articulate your experience of a poem and its meaning or value through analytical essay writing and the composition of your own poems. And as a class, we will work to address questions relating to the purpose of poetic language, the persistence of particular topics in poems: love, death, nature, psyche, and discuss how poems interact with issues of social concern.

Learning Outcomes #

  1. “Attentive” or “Close” Reading. You will leave the course with a heightened sensitivity to lineation, rhyme, meter, syntax, diction, deixis, typography, spacing, and other forms within a poetic text. You will also learn how to describe the world or voice of a poem or poet through corpus-driven, historical, and/or biographical research.

  2. Producing an argument. You will learn to write essays which not only produce close readings of a primary text but which move these analyses in the direction of a central thesis. On a sentence level, you will learn to write essays which reflect on awareness of the stylistic conventions and affordances of the genre and its related sub-genres: the book review, the journal article, and the personal or “lyric” essay.

  3. Values. What makes a particular poem more powerful than another one? To what extent is value dependent on personal taste, and how do preferences and tastes come to be? How do specific methods of reading affect one’s tastes and writing practices? And how can I communicate the importance or relevance of my poetic values to others in different domains? You will be able to articulate answers to these questions by the end of the course.

FWS Requirements #

1. You are required to write five essays for this course. Essay 0 will be given a completion grade; 1-4 will be given a letter grade.

Essay 0 – “Poetics” – 3-4 pages pages (Week 1)
Essay 1 – “Rhyme, Line, Meter” – 3-5 pages (Week 4)
Essay 2 – “Poems in Dialogue” – 3-5 pages (Week 8)
Essay 3 – “Literature Review” – 3-5 pages (Week 12)
Essay 4 – “Final” – 8-12 pages (Week 16)

Essays 1-3 count for 20% each, Essay 4 counts for 40%. See individual rubrics for each essay as they are released for exact grading criteria. Essays 1-3 may be revised multiple times up to a week after feedback is received; Essay 4 will go through a drafting process, but may not be revised if the first version is turned in after a specified date.

Please follow MLA citation and style guidelines, with Times New Roman font. Be sure to put commas and periods inside quotation marks: “Hello,” he said / She said “hello.” There is one special rule for this class: use 1.7 line spacing, not the typical double-spacing.1

  1. You are required to attend class as often as possible, having done the readings, and to participate in class discussions.

  2. You are required to participate in certain preparatory activities, including peer review and discussion board, outside of class.

  3. You are required to meet with the instructor twice over the course of the semester, as detailed on the Schedule, in order to receive feedback on your essays.

Grading #

Your final grade is primarily determined by the grades you receive on your essays, but issues with lateness and absence can cause your grade to be “capped” according to the rules detailed below.


You may miss up to 3 classes for any reason before your grade is capped at an A-. Missing 4-6 classes will lead to an A- maximum, and missing more than 7 leads to a B+ maximum. Arriving more than 10 minutes late three times counts as an absence. Please get enough sleep, and do not attend class if you are feeling unwell. If you miss more than three classes due to an illness or other crisis, I will consider lifting the grading cap, but you must have communicated your intent to miss class in advance of each absence (or shortly afterwards) for an exemption to be applicable.


We use Piazza to share all sorts of pieces of informal writing before and during class. You can miss three of these without penalty, after which point your grade will be capped at an A-. Missing six or more will lead to a B+ maximum, and missing nine or more will lead to a B maximum.

Try to speak during class-wide discussions at least once a week. There is no penalty for not speaking in class, but your final grade may be decremented for behaviors that are distracting or disruptive.


Any essay may be turned in up to 24 hours after its deadline with no penalty to the grade. After that, the student is responsible for sending status updates informing the instructor of their progress. A status update must include (1) A note in the body of the email articulating what you’re struggling with, and (2) what you think is feasible for you to accomplish by a certain deadline, set in the email (two or three days out is ideal).

You can replace the emailed updates with a meeting with me or by a meeting with the Knight Institute’s writing center. You can also send an attachment that shows your current work on the paper with a brief note stipulating that the document represents progress on the essay.

If you miss status updates for a week, the late essay will receive a maximum grade of A-; essays more than a week late will receive a maximum grade of B+.

“Caps” are not cumulative across categories, but the lowest cap will be instituted unilaterally. If you miss six classes (A- cap) and six Piazza posts (B+ cap), your maximum grade for the class would be a B+.

As a general rule, I do not send warnings with respect to class performance unless I notice a disruption to the classroom environment. If you are unsure about your attendance status, late or missing work, and want to know where your grade stands or how to “do better,” please ask; I will provide feedback and guidance.

The A+ grade is not commonly given out in this course and should be thought of as a mark of distinction based on the qualities of the student’s essays, and on the student’s contributions to class discussions, conferences, and office hours. Do not ask about whether or not you have earned an A+ in the class or if there is something you can do to earn the grade.

I may nominate up to two students per term to submit work to one of the Knight Institute’s FWS prizes. This is something you can ask about; I will make an effort to help nominees submit their best work.

Communications #

  • Announcements will be sent via Canvas and Piazza after each class detailing the assignments for the following class. Canvas announcements are often more general and Piazza notes will include attachments to readings. All announcements should show up in your inbox without delay.

  • Please communicate with me by email, at [email protected]. If I don’t respond within two days, send a follow-up reminder.

  • If you have questions that might be relevant to others in the class, ask them in class or by making a post in Piazza. If you find an error on the website, bring it up in the “general” folder or send me an email directly.

  • I am available to meet one-on-one at various times throughout the week. Use the link to schedule a meeting. Drop-in office hours will occur once a week at a time to be decided by poll. My office is KG 53, which is in the hall at the back of the ground level of Klarman hall, to the left side if you’re approaching from Temple of Zeus.

Materials #

All readings will be made available on Canvas or uploaded to Piazza. Please do not circulate slides, handouts, scans, or any other course materials on public file sharing websites, as some of the material may be copyrighted.

You should always bring a computer to class, so that you can access PDFs and write to Piazza. I highly recommend that you use the annotation functions available on your preferred PDF viewer as you read materials for class.

You are always encouraged to read beyond the course materials. Use the library; use JSTOR, use HathiTrust and other databases for academic articles and books. You may also encounter poems and writing on poems in literary magazines like the Paris Review, the LA Review of Books, The Yale Review.

You can check out books from other libraries using BorrowDirect if they are currently unavailable at Cornell. If you’re interested in buying new books, Buffalo Street Books and Odyssey Bookstore are some local options.

Policy #

  • This webpage is subject to change at all times, but substantive edits will be announced via Canvas.
  • The instructor may make exceptions to the grading policies listed above if deemed necessary and appropriate.
  • Writing submitted for this course may be read and shared among other members of the class on the Canvas site, typically for peer review exercises.
  • Writing submitted for this course must have been written for this course and not another and must originate with you in form and content with all contributory sources fully and specifically acknowledged. See Cornell’s Guide to Academic Integrity. Penalty for a violation of the code is normally an ‘F’ for the term.
  • This instructor respects and upholds University policies and regulations pertaining to the observation of religious holidays; assistance available to the physically handicapped, visually and/or hearing impaired student; sexual harassment; discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and gender identity. Students are advised to become familiar with the respective University regulations and are encouraged to bring any questions or concerns to the attention of the instructor.
  • If you have a disability-related need for this course, provide the instructor with an accommodation notification letter from Student Disability Services. Students are expected to give two weeks’ notice for requested accommodations. If you need immediate accommodations sooner, please speak to the instructor about your need by the end of the first week.

  1. The total minimum page count, 3+3+3+3+8=20, converted to the standard double spacing, satisfies the 20-page minimum mandated by the Knight institute. ↩︎

Last update: 5/22/2023
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