EAS3408 - Poetry and Politics

2022/3 Module description

StaffDr Simon Rennie - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module description

This module explores the relationship between poetry and politics over the last two centuries through a uniquely reverse chronological approach. Beginning with contemporary poetry and working back episodically through the twentieth and nineteenth centuries, we will consider how poetry engages with broad sites of political tension and movement including gender, sexuality, class, and race, but we will also situate poetry within its particular political and historic framework, asking how this interacts with more literary considerations including form, address, and reception. The module will work back through history towards the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 and the French Revolution, treating them as points of literary, political, and historical focus.

You will find this module particularly interesting if you have an interest in history or politics. However, no specialist knowledge is required in order to engage fully with this module.

Module aims

  • You will encounter poetry from the last two centuries through a particular thematic approach. This module reads canonical poetry in new ways, but also engages with poetry which has suffered critical neglect.
  • You will be asking what the nature of the role of poetry is in relation to the politics of the day. You will also be looking at how this role may have changed over the last two centuries.
  • You will be examining not just the form of poetry but also its function – what role poetry plays in society. Lectures and seminars will bring together discussion of poetry both as a literary phenomenon and as an agent of social and political change.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate an understanding of the cultural and political implications of poetry since 1790
  • 2. Demonstrate an appreciation of poetry’s unique relationships with political discourses through history

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Demonstrate the skills to apply extra-literary contexts to literary texts
  • 4. Demonstrate an ability to read literature as both a reflection and a shaper of social desire

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. In synchronous and asynchronous learning, to develop advanced communication skills in order to convey complex ideas
  • 6. In research, to work with core texts, critical works, and archives in order to collate and synthesise material to aid a cogent academic argument
  • 7. Through the essay, to structure and sustain a complex argument with a high level theoretical and interpretive application
  • 8. Through lecture slide portfolio, to demonstrate the ability to effectively utilise visual and textual media in order to produce and structure coherent presentational material

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

Introduction and Context:

  • Introduction and Contemporary Contexts – Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney, Michael Symmons Roberts

Pre- and Post-War Twentieth Century Poetry:

  • Beats and the Black Mountain School: New American Voices – Allan Ginsberg, Diane Di Prima, Charles Olson
  • The English Way: (Un)Official Laureates – W. H. Auden, John Betjeman, Philip Larkin

Early Twentieth Century Poetry:

  • The Harlem Renaissance: Black Voices – Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn B. Bennett
  • Politics and the Modernist Poets – T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, H. D.

Victorian Poetry:

  • Victorian Women: The Female Voice – Christina Rossetti, Emily Bronte, Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • Chartist Poetry: The Male Voice and Vote – Ernest Jones, Thomas Cooper, William James Linton
  • Cotton and Corn: Industrial and Agricultural Voices – Joseph Ramsbottom, Ebenezer Elliott, John Clare

Romantic Poetry:

  • Peterloo: The Spectre of Class War – Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, James Leigh Hunt
  • The French Revolution: Seeds of British Reform – William Wordsworth, Robert Southey, William Blake
  • Focus on Assessment

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching1111 x 1 hour lecture
Scheduled learning and teaching1111 x 1 hour seminars/webinars
Scheduled learning and teaching2211 x Asynchronous engagement
Guided independent study72Individual seminar preparation
Guided independent study184Reading, research, essay and presentation preparation

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Lecture slide portfolio4012 slides + notes1-6, 8Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Essay603000 words1-7Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Lecture slide portfolioLecture slide portfolio1-6, 8Referral/Deferral period
EssayEssay1-7Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Students are advised to consult critical or authoritative editions when referencing, but most of reading will be made available on the module ELE site.

  • Selected poetry from Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney, Michael Symmons Roberts
  • Selected poetry from Allan Ginsberg, Diane Di Prima, selected prose from Charles Olson
  • Selected poetry from W. H. Auden, John Betjeman, Philip Larkin
  • Selected poetry from Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn B. Bennett
  • Selected poetry from T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, H. D.
  • Selected poetry from Christina Rossetti, Emily Bronte, Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • Selected poetry from Ernest Jones, Thomas Cooper, William James Linton
  • Selected poetry from Joseph Ramsbottom, Ebenezer Elliott, John Clare
  • Selected poetry from Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, Samuel Bamford
  • Selected poetry from William Wordsworth, Robert Southey, William Blake

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

English, Literature, 20th Century, 19th Century, Poetry, Politics

Important please note

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the module descriptors for the Online Module Selection process, please be aware that on rare occasions it may be necessary to remove proposed modules for reasons beyond our control. In addition, there are still some new modules going through the accreditation process. These will be offered in due course by the relevant discipline.

All modules displayed below have been approved by the approval process but may require further minor amendments before the commencement of teaching.

We are committed to providing an outstanding education and high quality teaching. You can find out details of your modules and any potential changes on these pages. If you are a returning student, joining after the first year or a postgraduate student details of your module changes will be provided in August. 

Foreign Language Centre modules

Term 1 module codes listed above ending with C, i.e. FLF1115C, are only available to outbound students who are away in Term 2. Students studying all year must select the standard module across both Term 1 and 2.