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Aims and Objectives

Many readers make the assumption that there is a connection between poetry and feeling: in the Republic, Plato even complained that the reason poetry has a negative moral influence on us is because it appeals to our emotions, rather than our ‘higher’ reason. Yet countless poets petition emotion as the basis and meaning of their work, 'since feeling is first,' as e. e. cummings claimed.

The module thus explores three primary questions:

(1) How does poetry express and articulate emotion, both formally (in specific kinds of language and rhythm), and thematically (in describing our experiences of love, friendship, mourning, religion, nature)?

(2) How has the question of communicating this expression been addressed in essay form (both in essays by literary critics of poetry, and prose work by poets)?

(3) How do we as 'modern' readers understand emotion through our reading of poetry?