Skip to main content

Assessed essay 1


The essay is 3500 words. Please follow the instructions in the Undergraduate Handbook when you submit your essay. You are welcome (and encouraged) to design your own question, which should be agreed with me no later than January 10, 2014. You may agree your own title in person or over email.


  1. 'The force that through the green fuse drives the flower / Drives my green age' (Dylan Thomas). Discuss in relation to Heidegger's reading of technology and poetry.
  2. Poetry establishes being in words. Discuss.
  3. Critics like Nancy Holland argue that Heidegger's rejection of dualisms and his openness to poetry and the natural world creates a framework for feminist analysis. Discuss.
  4. Write an essay on Hopkins' reading of environmental destruction as personal loss in two of his poems.
  5. Write an essay on the dialogue between thinking and poeticizing in Heidegger.
  6. Heidegger envisions a pre-modern oral society where poetry, song and dance were the key media for transmitting knowledge and values. Why does Heidegger argue that these media cannot flourish in the modern world?
  7. In 'The Origin of the Work of Art' Heidegger proposes 'Art allows truth to arise' as a challenge to Hegel's statement: 'Art no longer counts as the highest way in which truth finds existence for itself' (Lectures on Aesthetics). Discuss the relationship between art and truth in Heidegger OR Heidegger and Hegel.
  8. What is the fourfold?
  9. 'We - human beings - are a conversation. Man's being is grounded in language; but this actually occurs only in conversation' ('Hölderlin and the Essence of Poetry'). Here, Heidegger suggests language is not an abstract system of vocabulary and syntax but a 'conversation', or integration of words, things and actions. To what extent does this help us to understand poetic language as a social practice?
  10. 'listen / a / lark / spinning / around / one / note / splitting / and / mending / it' (Alice Oswald, Dart). Discuss in relation to Heidegger's reading of listening and being.
  11. Write an essay on the significance of 'rivers' for Heidegger in relation to Hölderlin's river poems ('The Ister', 'The Rhine') OR Hölderlin and another poet discussed on the module OR a poet of your own choosing.
  12. 'When we reflect on the modern age, we are questioning concerning the modern world picture (Weltbild). We characterize the latter by throwing it into relief over against the medieval and the ancient world pictures' ('The Age of the World Picture'). To what extent can poetry help negotiate the differences between the 'modern' and the 'ancient' world picture?
  13. Discuss Heidegger's reading of 'dwelling' in relation to the figures of Armytage and Margaret in Wordsworth's The Ruined Cottage.
  14. Is Wordsworth's Lucy the 'essence' of poetry as Heidegger understands it?




Answering the question


There are many ways of writing an essay, and literary critics sometimes respond to essay titles in a slightly different way to philosophers. You are welcome to take any approach to this essay, and I encourage you to email me as you think about your argument.

While you're thinking, the following sources might help: