EN3VR-Visions and Revisions: Poets at Work

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: English Part 1
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Prof Peter Robinson

Email: P.Robinson@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

In this module students will explore the development of a number of important poems from drafts to published and republished texts. As well as comparing and contrasting the methods of different poets and considering the influence of these methods on their completed work, the module will explore the aesthetics, ethics, and psychology of revision. Students will also practice interpreting the evidence provided by poets’ working manuscripts and typescripts, while addressing the difficulties involved in drawing conclusions from such evidence. This module is also suitable for Creative Writing students with a particular interest in poetry, whose assessed essay may include examples of, and reflections on, their own practice. 


This module aims to increase awareness of literary texts as created objects in process of construction. It aims to promote knowledge and understanding of the cultural and historical siting of the work being studied, of its reception, and of the writers’ responses to that reception. 

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module students will be expected to:

• show skills of close textual analysis and interpretation of poetic technique

• demonstrate ability to apply knowledge of individual and cultural history to poems and to develop understandings of such histories from them

• show an awareness of both theoretical and practical issues generated by these texts

• engage collaboratively and critically with ideas discussed in seminars

• construct and express coherent arguments, both orally and in writing.

Additional outcomes:

Transferable Skills

Each module is designed to encourage you to develop skills of oral communication and effective participation in group work. Additionally, you will be encouraged to enhance your IT competence through the use of relevant web resources and library databases, and through the word-processing of assessed coursework.

Outline content:

The module will be taught through case studies of Shakespeare’s sonnets 138 and 144, Wordsworth’s ‘The Sailor’s Mother’, Coleridge’s ‘Dejection: An Ode’, Yeats’s ‘The Wild Swans at Coole’, Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Auden’s ‘A Summer Night’, Bernard Spencer’s ‘Boat Poem’, and Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘One Art’. The Shakespeare examples, comparing the 1598 and 1609 texts, will address the questions of what revision looks like, since scholars are in disagreement about whether this is in fact revision, memorial construction, or editorial interference. In the cases of Wordsworth, Yeats, Owen, Eliot, and Bishop, the seminar will study examples from published material derived from surviving manuscripts and typescripts. In the other cases we will compare variant printed texts. Supplementary reading (to include Poe’s ‘Philosophy of Composition’, a passage from Wittgenstein’s Lectures on Aesthetics, and Bernard Williams’s ‘Moral Luck’ essay) will relate the practical explorations of revision to issues in psychology, aesthetics, and ethics. There will also be opportunities for students to introduce and explore other examples of poetic revision both in seminar discussion and in assessed work. 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Three seminar hours weekly, which may take the form of a single 3-hour block or two blocks of 1 and 2 hours respectively, for which students are required to do preparatory reading. Students are also entitled to a half-hour tutorial on their formative written work. With the consent of the module convenor, students may also undertake a placement, through which they will learn how to apply the knowledge and skills gained in studying for this module in a professional context outside the University. 

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 20
Tutorials 0.5
Guided independent study 169.5
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Formative assessment methods:

Students write one formative essay, of between 1500 and 2000 words. Feedback will also be provided on the assessed essay of 2250-2500 words, or the equivalent placement report.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of at least 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-examination in August. Coursework will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Otherwise it must be resubmitted in August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 30 May 2018


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